The growing use of public transport in the Waikato region in recent years is probably no surprise to Tina Blackwell. She’s notched up more than 20 years’ doing just that, travelling from her home in Te Awamutu to her job in Hamilton four days a week since 1993. Take off the two years she was on maternity leave with her children - and some time for holidays - and Tina’s been on more than 6,900 bus trips. And she loves it!
Recent figures show that over the last decade or so (2000-2013), the number of people using public transport (buses, trains and other services) in the Waikato region has trebled to an estimated average of 12 ‘boardings’ per person each year. Sharing a bus is also a great way for people to meet others in their community too - Tina’s probably got a lot more company on her journey to work these days compared with 20 years ago!
Tina says her daily commute to work and back is easier by bus. “It’s the convenience factor I like the most. I don’t have to bring my car as the bus picks me up and drops me off within walking distance from home and work, so there’s no hassle about parking.”
With more people on public transport, there are fewer vehicles on our roads, improving safety where this lessens traffic congestion. It also helps to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions in our air. That’s something Tina probably appreciates as she adds a bit of healthy exercise into her busy work days by walking to and from the bus stop!
A drop in traffic congestion can also improve efficiencies in moving freight within and outside our region. That means Tina and her fellow passengers are not only enjoying a convenient, safe way to get to work – they could be contributing to building a better regional and national economy.
Providing convenient timetables and affordable travel costs are key elements aimed at encouraging people to use public transport – and it’s challenging to get this right for the majority. However, ongoing improvements in this area could perhaps be having an impact – Tina certainly thinks so. “The timetable suits me perfectly and the price is great.” While Tina’s convinced that public transport is a great way to go, we still need to get more people using public transport in our region. That’s because although our public transport passenger boarding figures increasing, they’re still lagging well below the national average.
Meanwhile, Tina’s making the most of using the time she’d once spent battling the traffic, to instead ease into and out of her day. “The timeout to and from work is brilliant. Some days I read and catch up on texting, other days I just stare out the window and enjoy the downtime. Tonight’s dinner is often planned on the bus trip home.”
Read other stories from people living in our region.