Waikato Regional Council has today adopted a draft regional public transport plan which sets out what services will be delivered and how over the next 10 years.
The plan has been drafted following consultation with a number of key stakeholders including public transport operators, the New Zealand Transport Agency, city and district councils throughout the region and the Ministry of Education.
The council has also talked to a variety of community groups who represent the business, public health, education and access and mobility sectors.
Councillor Lois Livingston, chairperson of the regional public transport plan development committee, said following the meeting that public transport plays a key role in the lives of many of our Waikato communities.
“It provides people who don’t have access to private vehicles with transport options, and improves connections between and within urban centres and rural communities.
“It’s important for the economic and social vitality of the region that we continue to deliver a growing and affordable public transport system and this draft plan sets out how we propose to do that,” Cr Livingston said.
The majority of network changes proposed in the plan will affect bus services in Hamilton. Implementation of a new Hamilton urban bus network will be staged from 2016 to 2018 to coincide with the expiry of existing bus contracts.
The council heard that the proposed changes follow a comprehensive review of the region’s bus network over the past two years. This review found that some areas of Hamilton have been over-serviced, so the council is proposing to merge several routes and use the cost savings to extend several other bus routes into areas not currently well serviced.
“By making these changes, we’re maximising our resources and providing a network which will improve the bus experience for our existing and new passengers.
“We are also mindful of the need to keep fares at reasonable levels, and this plan signals a comprehensive fare structure review will be undertaken over the next year,” Cr Livingston said.
The draft plan also identifies inter-regional passenger rail services as a potential public transport option into the future. However, the draft plan signals that there is a more immediate need to look at a link between Tuakau and Auckland and there are ongoing discussions with the Waikato District Council and Auckland Transport about the feasibility of and funding for such a service.
Public consultation on the draft plan will begin on Friday 7 November and close on Monday 15 December. An open day is being held at Hamilton’s transport centre in Bryce Street from 8am-3pm on Thursday 13 November.
Visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/rptp from Friday 7 November to read the draft plan and make a submission.