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Townships Urged To Use Their Buses

3 November 2008

Townships Urged To Use Their Buses

Crucial decisions are looming on the future of a number of Taranaki bus services – and the strong message to rural townships is “use it or lose it”.

The Taranaki Regional Council is trialling once-a-week return bus services from Waverley to Hawera, Opunake to Hawera, and Opunake to New Plymouth, all under the South Link banner. It is also trialling a once-a-week service linking Inglewood and New Plymouth.

The trials run until the end of June 2009 and the Council’s Director-Operations, Rob Phillips, says what happens beyond that time will need to be decided in the New Year.

“Patronage so far on the Waverley-Hawera run and the Opunake-Hawera run has met or exceeded our criteria, which is pleasing,” he says. “But that support needs to continue or hopefully build if these communities want to be assured of a continued service.”

However, patronage on the Opunake-New Plymouth service and the Inglewood-New Plymouth service is falling below the Council’s criteria for the trial.

“We’ll need to look long and hard at those routes and the best thing people can do if they want these services kept is to get out and take advantage of them,” says Mr Phillips.

“It’s never been easier, with the introduction of free off-peak travel for Super Gold Card holders. All the South Link services and the Inglewood-New Plymouth service fall within the off-peak definition that applies to the Super Gold Card concession nationally, so they are free to Super Gold Card holders. The cost is covered by central Government funds.”

He says the Council is aware of calls for expanded services for the communities covered by the trials. “But we need to walk before we can run and these trials are an opportunity for communities to prove they need and value bus services.”

Details of routes, timetables and fares are available through www.taranakibus.info.

The South Link trials began in July 2007. They are operated by Weir Brothers (Waverley-Hawera) and Pickering Motors (Opunake-Hawera and Opunake-New Plymouth).

The Inglewood-New Plymouth trial began in November 2007 and is operated by Tranzit Coachlines.

ENDS

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