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"Public Transport" by 'Lets'

"Many local people of all ages are transport disadvantaged.  By transport disadvantaged I mean they have do not drive a car, and have no access to public transport, (and to the Gold Card free travel and other subsidies available in larger towns and cities.)  There are some excellent services run by local charities and the DHB providing transport to Hospitals and other health providers.  However there are large numbers of locals who are not able to access other essential social services, to go shopping, belong to clubs, visit friends and socialize et cetera, because they are transport disadvantaged.  Many are essentially trapped in their own homes, and unable to fully participate in their communities.

The Land Transport legislation specifically requires Regional Councils and local authorities to look after the interests of the transport disadvantaged.  Waikato Regional Council provides public transport planning and manages the Government subsidy given to communities who wish to provide public transport.  Here are some especially relevant priorities for rural areas set out in its Public Transport Plan :-

  •           Improve rural access within rural towns, between rural towns, and between rural towns and main urban centres
  • ·         Across the region, improve accessibility for transport disadvantaged groups – older people and youth in particular – to key social services

Despite these Regional priorities, there is a wrong-headed mindset in our District that public transport is something which only larger towns and cities should have.  The public transport subsidy is available throughout New Zealand, including for smaller rural towns.  Furthermore, the Local Government Act declares that the provision of public transport is defined as a core service for all Councils.

What is lacking in our District is the political will to provide public transport in towns such as Thames, Whangamata and Whitianga.  This seems to be very strange when you see the eagerness with which our Council seeks the Government subsidy to accompany the huge sums it spends on roading infrastructure.  The mindset seems to be it is okay to seek subsidies for the roads themselves.  But somehow it is taboo for our local politicians to seek the readily available subsidies for public transport which enable everyone in the community to access and enjoy the benefits of that infrastructure?  This is particularly hard to fathom when you consider that only 31.5% of the cost of providing public transport in the Waikato comes from council rates – the rest coming from the Government Subsidy and fares.  The District Council has to stump up with around 50% of the share of the spend on local roads.


Public transport gives numerous economic and environmental benefits.   It saves $3.5 billion every year from the costs otherwise associated with people being excluded from New Zealand society, according to a NZTA report.  It provides jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (even more so if an electric vehicle could be used?) and air pollution.

Start with a trial service in Thames

Thames seems to be a logical town in which to start a public transport trial. Already parking is becoming more difficult to access in Thames and traffic more congested.  The Thames Community Board and the Council could start with a consultation process, followed by a business case and submission to the Regional Council asking it to provide a trial service in its Regional Public Transport Plan.  The idea would be to start small and build greater capacity as public support and patronage increased, which it inevitably will.

How about a loop service with initially say a 12 seater van (perhaps with wheelchair and/or mobility scooter access?) running from the CBD and the Goldfields Shopping Centre to Parawai, back to the CBD, out to Tararu Retirement Village and back again?  Timetabling and other routing (Kopu and the hill suburbs?) would have to be worked out, but a frequency of every 30 – 45 minutes during business hours Mondays to Saturdays seems doable.

Whangamata and Mercury Bay Community Boards could get in on the action if they wish to.  Gold Card subsidies would apply in off-peak times, and student concessions would apply as they do elsewhere.  If demand increased then further vehicles could be added to the service.

Total Mobility

Total Mobility is an additional Government subsidized service run by the Regional Council which could be taken up by local towns.  Total Mobility provides a door to door service 24/7 for people with disabilities to access all manner of social services - not just health providers.  The subsidy is up to 60% of a standard taxi or other provider’s fare.  At present only Hamilton, Tokoroa and Taupo have taken up the service in the Waikato Region.  Elsewhere small towns like Thames, such as Hawera, Marton, Fielding, Levin and Taumaranui are Total Mobility users.  Land Transport has provided a useful guide for local authorities.  All that is required is the political will to get on board.

Public Transport and Total Mobility are not privileges reserved only for people living in Mt Eden or Dinsdale.  Tararu, Parawai, Centennial Heights and Moana Anu Anu dwellers are entitled to, and deserve these same coreservices equally as much as their city counterparts."




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Reader Comments (8)

Efficient, affordable public transportation is woefully lacking, if not close to absent, in the Thames-Coromandel District, and should indeed be a high priority for Mayor Goudie and the incoming council.

As an integral component of all healthy communities, public transport is a basic social service providing access and mobility to the resident population in support of work-related commuting, services, commerce, and recreational activity. As elsewhere in New Zealand and around the world, we need and deserve it here.

A big part of our local public transport deficiency, however, can be laid at the doorstep of the Waikato Regional Council (WRC), urban-focused and a distant three hours from some peninsula centres, but charged with transport prioritisation and planning, including for our district.

The current WRC “Regional Public Transport Plan 2015-25”, produced by its Public Transport Plan Development Committee, shows why the regional council has completely failed eastern Waikato communities on public transport. The committee includes no one from anywhere this side of Morrinsville. Instead, the “planners” were two members from Hamilton City Council, one from the New Zealand Transport Agency, the deputy mayor of Waipa District, and two Hamilton-oriented WRC councillors. It’s no wonder the Coromandel doesn’t get a look-in.

This is what the WRC committee chairperson (from Hamilton) says in her plan introduction: “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…This plan will ensure public transport contributes directly to economic growth and productivity by providing bus services between people’s homes and where they work, play, study and access community services, particularly for people with no or limited access to a motor vehicle.”

But here is the reality for our district: A search of the massive 96-page, 10-year public transport planning document for the Waikato Region shows the word “Coromandel” appearing just five times – once on a map, twice on council organisational flow charts, and one time each in references to the Auckland ferry and the Mercury Bay summer shuttle service. The names “Thames” and “Whangamata” fail to appear even once. The names “Whitianga” and “Tairua” appear in a single sentence listing ferries. The Coromandel Peninsula is virtually non-existent in our regional council’s central public transport plan.

For all purposes, public transport planning and spending is all about Hamilton and the SH1 corridor of the western Waikato. When it comes to regional council spending here, there are a couple of vans shuttling visitors seasonally to beach hot spots, but no substantive response at all to the peninsula’s real public transport requirements.

A list of top-priority transport options for our district is not hard to identify. With continued growth projected in the main centres, they might include Thames-area suburban, coast and loop service, Whitianga-Coromandel Town shuttle, and east coast continuous service.

Putting the Thames-Coromandel District onto the regional public transport agenda should be a high priority for newly elected WRC Councillor Dal Minogue. As a long-time district resident and former TCDC councillor, Minogue should be able to work effectively with Mayor Goudie and his new colleagues over at WRC, in directing planning attention and resources to address the peninsula’s glaring, and urgent, public transport needs.

October 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Robinson

Geoff I agree with all that you say about the woeful lack of provision for public transport for the Coromandel in the Regional Council's Transport Plan.

But the first move has to come from the Thames Coromandel District Council. The WRC will continue to ignore the TCDC unless and until the local Council and puts a proposal(s) in its own annual plan, gets Dal Minogue to actively back it, and fiercely lobbies WRC to include the proposal in its Public Transport Plan.

October 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlets

Hi Bill,
I suggest you pass on the above information to the Thames Community Board members to see if they wish to progress the trial idea. I would be more than happy to help if they wanted that trial and got D. Council backing for it.
Dal Minogue.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue


Very pleased you are willing to help, but with all due respect -- you are the elected representative here. It really is your job to contact Thames Community Board and the District Council and get the ball rolling on public transport initiatives in the District from which you were elected. That would be really helpful, and show the kind of initiative and leadership which was lacking by your predecessor.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlets

Sorry, but I disagree. The District Council has known for years of the rules on this but have failed to be interested in pursuing them. When I was a District Councillor, off my own bat I attended a Waikato Regional Council transport committee meeting in Paeroa to initiate the Ferry Landing to Hahei shuttle. I was the only District Councillor from any part of the District to attend that meeting although all the others had been invited, so we in Mercury Bay got something and no-one else did. The rules are there for anyone to use and the initiative must come from the local communities.
Regards, Dal.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Dal Sorry but that was under a previous Council and this should not colour your attitude to the issue now. Also you were not the whole of the Coromandel's representative on WRC then. You are now. Why not take it on yourself to inform the new community board and Council members of what public transport services/subsidies - including "Total Mobility" - are available from your Council (many will be unaware or ill-informed) and be proactive. How about you arrange for WRC staff responsible for the Public Transport Plan to come over and give a presentation to local Boards and/or Council?

It may not be your stance? but your reaction above gives the impression of buck passing and turf wars? I am sure I am not alone in hoping that post - election we would get some proactive leadership and co-operation between local and regional councils.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlets

All right will have a look at that. Appreciate the work behind creating an informed article like that by the way. Dal.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

31.5% of the cost to be paid by rate payers according to the graph! What do rate payers think of that?

Before a "trial" is considered a business case needs to be done to see how much use any transport offering might have. Very little I suspect.

I agree with Dal's first comment that the Community Board needs to take the issue up with him, not the other way around.

WHO IS LETS? I am always suspicious of any one who does not put their name to their thoughts, for me to be taken seriously you need to have the courage of your convictions and be responsible for what you say.

Clancy Nixon

November 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterClancy Nixon

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