Urban bus service will continue
The Urban Connector bus service looks set to continue, for now at least.
South Waikato District Council Executive Group communications officer Sina Tolovae said funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has ensured the public transport service, initially a six month trial, will continue on a permanent basis for at least the next year.
‘‘If the Urban continues to be well utilised it is the council’s hope that the service will extend beyond this,’’ she said.
The council introduced the service after a need for public transport was highlighted during the 2014-15 Annual Plan and Economic and Community Development five million dollar project consultation processes.
Tolovae said the council provided $200,000 to fund the establishment of a trial service which began in June 2015.
‘‘The service started out with a district circuit in the morning and afternoon from Tokoroa, Putaruru, and Tirau and back (the District Circuit), as well as three Tokoroa urban circuits (the Tokoroa Circuit),’’ she said.
‘‘The primary driver in the early stages was to help get residents to the newly consolidated South Waikato Health Centre in Maraetai Rd in Tokoroa.
‘‘However, just six weeks into the trial, the council and steering committee quickly realised more users were interested in getting to and from the Tokoroa central business district.’’
‘‘We introduced a number of changes such as doubling the number of circuits around Tokoroa to six, introducing new stops along the circuit, and making the Tokoroa I-SITE the home base.’’
She said along the way several other changes have been introduced including new stops on the District Circuit in Putaruru and Lichfield, and a temporary student service.
‘‘Council, along with partners Go Bus and the Waikato Regional Council monitor the service and in December 2015 the decision was made to continue the trial to gather more robust data to supplement our business case to the NZTA to carry the service through to a permanent one for the district,’’ she said.
Tolovae said remaining funding from the initial $200,000 is being used to establish a public transport service that will help residents get to and from needed health care outside the district. The urban connector has proved popular and the data has helped secure continued funding.
According to those figures the most popular spot to get on and off the bus is the Tokoroa I-site. *I-site *New World supermarket * Tainui St * O’sullivan Dr * Health Centre (Tokoroa Hospital)
**East Parkdale (west) * Papanui St (central) * Billah (central) * Manfield. * Maraetai/baberton
East Parkdale (west) * Maraetai/baberton * Billah (central) * New World supermarket * Manfield
The Urban Connector bus service will continue for at least another year in the South Waikato.