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Successful free bus service extended until 2012

Friday, October 20, 2006

Successful free bus service extended until 2012

A two-year trial of a free bus service for Massey staff and students in Palmerston North has proved so successful it is to be extended for a further five years from February, Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear has announced.

There were congratulations all round – followed by a tour of the Palmerston North campus on a Tranzit bus – for guests, students and staff at function to mark the millionth passenger on the unlimited access bus service yesterday. Guest speaker was the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams, who hailed the service as an example to other university cities in New Zealand wanting to achieve environmental objectives by cutting traffic volumes.

“It’s a superb initiative, well grounded and you are showing the way,” Dr Williams said. “In the mobility area we really need to be focusing on the resource intensity,” he said.

“The total number of passenger vehicles has gone up 75 per cent in the last 15 years. Our vehicle age has gone up 3.5 per cent over that time – our average vehicle age is 12 years – engine size has gone up, total energy use in domestic transport has gone up 21 per cent, and fuel consumption in New Zealand is 11.5 litres per hundred kilometres. We’re the highest in the OECD.

“This sort of issue is really fundamental in raising awareness in where energy fits into a country’s future, where energy fits into our economy.”

Raising awareness about transport energy efficiency helps raise awareness about things like energy consumption in homes and businesses, and gets people thinking about sustainability, Dr Williams said.

“So it’s a great step forward. You are being watched very closely by other universities and so you should because it’s great leadership.” Students’ Association president Paul Falloon confirmed that other universities were watching. He regularly heard from other students’ associations eager to have a similar service in their city.

Mr Falloon thanked the organisations that funded the scheme for the way they had collaborated.

“It’s not just the environmental advantages, which are very important in today’s society, but also economically as a student it’s getting tougher and tougher to run a car with petrol prices increasing and more stresses on warrants of fitness, it’s getting really expensive,” he said.

He said he particularly liked the fact it was available to students on any day for any trip around town. “That’s really fantastic and may it extend and other businesses look at this as well and encourage people to stay in Palmerston North after they finish their studies.”

Garrick Murfitt, the chairman of Horizons Regional Council, which funds the $750,000 a year service along with Massey and Land Transport New Zealand, thanked everyone involved in planning the scheme and congratulated Massey and its students for using the buses in such large numbers.

The host of the function, Palmerston North Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Warrington, outlined the background to the service, saying before it started motorists could spend 30 to 40 minutes getting from the city to Massey at peak times, then struggle to find a park. The service was given a two-year trial “but within six months we’d proved the scheme”.

ENDS

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