Free trips for dis­abled

Waipa Post - - News -

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil has re­solved to en­dorse a pro­posal for free pub­lic trans­port for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the Waikato and sup­ported seek­ing a busi­ness case for free buses for un­der-18s in Hamil­ton.

The two items were con­sid­ered as part of Hamil­ton mayor An­drew King’s chair’s re­port at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing.

Mayor King says com­mu­nity feed­back has made it clear the dis­abil­ity con­ces­sion would sup­port qual­ity of life im­prove­ments for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who rely on pub­lic trans­port.

“I’m de­lighted the coun­cil has en­dorsed this pro­posal, which could lit­er­ally change lives for some of our res­i­dents,” he says. “I’m also proud our coun­cil is sup­port­ing a po­ten­tial study into free buses for youth in our city. This could be a game changer, and it could change the way we look at pub­lic trans­port in New Zealand.

“Hamil­ton’s grow­ing all the time, which is great but it’s also putting more pres­sure on our roads. We need to think dif­fer­ently about how our peo­ple get around our city.

“This is not just about ad­dress­ing con­ges­tion now, this is about cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where to­day’s young peo­ple start to see pub­lic trans­port as a nat­u­ral part of their lives. We have all ex­pe­ri­enced the dif­fer­ence in the city’s roads dur­ing school hol­i­days, but we need to have re­ally good in­for­ma­tion about the ben­e­fits and costs of a free ser­vice for un­der-18s.”

“We have asked the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil to con­sider fund­ing a busi­ness case to look at free buses for un­der-18s, and we’ve said we will con­trib­ute $25,000 to­wards the ex­pected cost of the study.”

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil is re­spon­si­ble for con­tract­ing and pro­vid­ing bus ser­vices in Hamil­ton and for some of the re­gion’s com­mu­ni­ties.

The pro­posed dis­abil­ity con­ces­sion was put for­ward at the Waikato Re­gional Pub­lic Trans­port Plan Hear­ing Com­mit­tee de­lib­er­a­tions last month. The res­o­lu­tion by Hamil­ton City Coun­cil en­dorses the pro­posed 100 per cent con­ces­sion.

The free youth fares busi­ness case pro­posal was a rec­om­men­da­tion from the Hamil­ton City Coun­cil growth and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee.

Last week’s de­ci­sion en­dorsed that re­quest to the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil and added fund­ing sup­port of $25,000 should the re­gional coun­cil de­cide to fund de­vel­op­ment of the busi­ness case.

The Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil strat­egy and pol­icy com­mit­tee will con­sider the dis­abil­ity con­ces­sion and the pro­posal to fund a busi­ness case on De­cem­ber 4.

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