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Published: 2012-05-08 00:00:00

It’s likely the regional public transport committee has met for the last time after yesterday voting in favour of a recommendation to disband.

A Waikato Regional Council review of governance arrangements for the region’s public transport was undertaken over the past two months at the committee’s request.

The committee voted 7-1 in favour of dissolving the committee, with governance matters to become the responsibility of the regional transport committee chaired by Waikato regional councillor Norm Barker.

Public transport chairperson Paula Southgate said the regional transport committee, which is attended by Waikato’s mayors, is the best place for the high level governance of public transport.

“This is about what will work best for public transport in the region. The regional transport committee should focus once more on public transport governance, especially when a number of the issues we are facing are dictated by national policy,” said Cr Southgate, who is also deputy chair of the regional transport committee.

She added that a major achievement for the public transport committee was finalisation of the regional public transport plan late last year. “With the plan now moving into an implementation phase over the next couple of years, the review of public transport governance has been timely.”

Hamilton sub region public transport committee member Daphne Bell said the new arrangement “gives us an opportunity to focus on the issues before us in a constructive approach that will hopefully improve public transport for us all”.

However, Waikato regional councillor Russ Rimmington, who said public transport was “one of the biggest issues facing shrinking towns”, opposed the move and suggested the committee could instead be restructured.

The new governance arrangements backed by the committee yesterday allow for more direct one-on-one contact between the regional council – which is responsible for managing public transport in the region – and territorial authorities.

In Hamilton, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the region’s public transport network, an entity will be established comprising two elected members each from the regional council and city council, and a representative from the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and disability sector.

It is proposed a separate session of the regional transport committee will be convened twice a year for the satellite/rural councils to discuss common public transport related matters.

Formal arrangements, including service level agreements, will also be established between the regional council and territorial authorities.

A regional public transport advisory group will also be convened as required to discuss public transport matters of regional significance and rollout national projects and initiatives across the Waikato. The group will comprise staff from the regional council, territorial authorities and NZTA, with the regional transport committee’s access and mobility representative.

Yesterday’s committee decision will be considered by Waikato Regional Council at its meeting on Thursday 24 May.