Bus con­ces­sion for dis­abled next year

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil has voted to in­tro­duce an ac­ces­si­bil­ity con­ces­sion, pro­vid­ing ap­proved peo­ple with free travel on pub­lic bus ser­vices.

The de­ci­sion by the strat­egy and pol­icy com­mit­tee — ap­plauded by an au­di­ence rep­re­sent­ing the dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity — will go to the full meet­ing of coun­cil next Wed­nes­day for fi­nal ap­proval.

Waikato will be the first re­gion in New Zealand to pro­vide a 100 per cent ac­ces­si­bil­ity con­ces­sion, which will come into ef­fect from mid-2019 when the new bus tick­et­ing sys­tem is im­ple­mented.

Coun­cil­lors heard a pre­sen­ta­tion from young Hamil­ton woman, Joy Ho, a reg­u­lar bus user who had asked the coun­cil to con­sider a dis­abil­ity con­ces­sion in a sub­mis­sion to the Re­gional Pub­lic Trans­port Plan ear­lier this year.

She de­scribed how buses pro­vide free­dom of move­ment, help her to be more ac­tive and get to and from her part-time ad­min job. She said more than 2500 peo­ple had signed a pe­ti­tion sup­port­ing her push for a con­ces­sion.

“The op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are end­less,” she told coun­cil­lors.

Ge­off Tay­lor also spoke in sup­port of the pro­posal, on be­half of Hamil­ton city coun­cil­lors.

Russ Rim­ming­ton, Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor and co-chair of the Hamil­ton Pub­lic Trans­port Joint Com­mit­tee, said buses en­able peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to live more in­de­pen­dently — get­ting to jobs, med­i­cal ap­point­ments and so­cial en­gage­ments.

“A 100 per cent con­ces­sion will be a first in this coun­try. As a pro­gres­sive re­gion, it’s im­por­tant we help per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties go about their nor­mal day.”

The cost of the con­ces­sion will be co-funded by the NZ Trans­port Agency and ratepay­ers, and it is es­ti­mated it will cost the coun­cil up to $75,000 per an­num.

Dur­ing the meet­ing coun­cil­lors also en­dorsed an el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for the con­ces­sion, which will be avail­able to any per­son of any age if it can be demon­strated they have a phys­i­cal, in­tel­lec­tual, psy­cho­log­i­cal, sen­sory or neu­ro­log­i­cal im­pair­ment that pre­vents them from be­ing legally able to drive a pri­vate mo­tor ve­hi­cle or is such that they will be un­able to drive once of a le­gal driving age.

It will be avail­able to those who have a tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent im­pair­ment that re­sults in a trans­port dis­abil­ity. A tem­po­rary im­pair­ment means a per­son will be un­able to drive for a pe­riod of six months or more but is ex­pected to re­cover from the im­pair­ment.

Any per­son in­cluded within the To­tal Mo­bil­ity Scheme will be el­i­gi­ble for an ac­ces­si­bil­ity con­ces­sion.

An ac­ces­si­bil­ity con­ces­sion is only avail­able for use with a reg­is­tered pub­lic trans­port smart­card.

An ap­pli­ca­tion for a per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary ac­ces­si­bil­ity fare con­ces­sion must be sup­ported by writ­ten ver­i­fi­ca­tion of el­i­gi­bil­ity from an ap­proved as­sess­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion, and photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to be held on file with the re­gional coun­cil.

Re­newals will be re­quired. Youth con­ces­sion busi­ness case

Also dur­ing the meet­ing, re­gional coun­cil­lors voted to sup­port the devel­op­ment of a busi­ness case to use a youth con­ces­sion to get stu­dents onto pub­lic buses and off the roads.

Hamil­ton city coun­cil­lor Ge­off Tay­lor said dur­ing the meet­ing that the city was grap­pling with traffic con­ges­tion and the morn­ing peak, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing school terms.

He said roads were clogged, with a no­table im­prove­ment dur­ing the hol­i­days.

“More roads are not the solution.

“We need to get peo­ple onto pub­lic trans­port,” Mr Tay­lor told re­gional coun­cil­lors.

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil had al­ready agreed to a $25,000 con­tri­bu­tion for a busi­ness case.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil agreed to match the amount, sub­ject to 75 per cent of the to­tal cost of the busi­ness case be­ing covered by the NZ Trans­port Agency.

Te Awa­mutu Bridge Club has fin­ished the year with a bang — and is al­ready look­ing for­ward to next year.

The group con­tin­ued a sea­son of bridge Christ­mas par­ties with a day of bridge fol­lowed by a Christ­mas din­ner or­gan­ised by mem­bers of the club.

Thirty-eight pairs of keen bridge play­ers from around the re­gion cel­e­brated in style with Te Awa­mutu pres­i­dent Nick Cant­lon di­rect­ing the event.

Sally Whit­taker won the award for the top Te Awa­mutu player with her part­ner Kate McFay­den from Cam­bridge.

Spe­cial prizes also went to Te Awa­mutu play­ers Bruce Man­deno and Ali­son Snell whose re­sult was clos­est to 50 per cent, and Mar­garet Smith and Marie Berry who made the greatest per­cent­age rise be­tween the two ses­sions.

Te Awa­mutu Bridge Club is tak­ing a break from De­cem­ber 8 un­til Jan­uary 31.

It al­ways wel­comes new mem­bers and has three ses­sions a week: Tues­day 11am (bring your lunch), Wed­nes­day 7.30pm and Fri­day 1.15pm. The club meets at 888 Te Rahu Rd.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact 871 7441 or [email protected]­hoo.com

Photo / Sup­plied

Te Awa­mutu Bridge Club play­ers Marie Berry (left) and Mar­garet Smith made the greatest per­cent­age rise be­tween the two ses­sions. They are pic­tured with Te Awa­mutu club pres­i­dent Nick Cant­lon.

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