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$6 Million Improved Passenger Transport Services

28 March, 2001

$6 Million New And Improved Passenger Transport Services

Regional councils nationwide have been quick to take advantage of the new patronage funding scheme with $2.05 million already approved to new and improved services with $6.46 million approved over three yearsTransport Minister Mark Gosche said today.

Five months after the introduction of a Government-led initiative to encourage greater use of public transport, regional councils around the country are taking advantage of the benefits.

Mr Gosche said the amount invested will increase as new applications are received.

“This Government has a strong commitment to public transport. Our objective is to encourage additional passenger transport services, at times and places where these will provide maximum benefits for all transport users."

Under Transfund’s Patronage Funding Scheme, the more passengers carried in a region, the greater the funding from Transfund. A ‘Kick-Start’ initiative was also introduced to help regional councils establish, as quickly as possible, new services that will help grow patronage.

Regional councils need to join the Scheme in order to take advantage of the benefits. At this stage Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and (Manawatu) have joined up. Together these districts represent more than 90 percent of Transfund’s total investment in passenger transport services.

“This switch to focusing on passengers carried, rather than the transport service itself, represents a major turnaround in the way passenger transport has been funded,” says Mr Gosche.

“The scheme has provided regional councils with much greater incentive and flexibility to design passenger transport services that best suit their regions and meet user needs. Recently released figures shows this approach is working well, with significantly higher levels of patronage.

“Canterbury Regional Council was one of the first to take up this special funding, which it used to complete its very successful Orbiter bus service. In Christchurch bus patronage for January this year was up 17 percent on the same month last year, the biggest monthly growth on record. Over 100,000 more bus trips were made. The Orbiter service was a major component of this success. It is now the city’s biggest bus route, accounting for more than 10 percent of all Christchurch bus trips.”

Increased frequencies, better timetabling information, simpler fare structures and more comfortable buses are making it more convenient for people to travel by public transport.

“This is having some very real spin-offs for regional councils also,” said Mr Gosche. “As a result of our initiative, many will actually be able to recover their share of service or capital start up costs through increases in patronage funding. These are increases that will occur as services become more attractive to passengers.”

Within participating regions, typical new initiatives include improved or extended bus services, such as additional peak time services, and improved or new information displays or shelters. In Wellington, some improvements to rail services have also been approved, and at Massey University a free student bus service will be introduced next year.

“Several initiatives, including an electronic smart card ticketing service for one region, are currently under evaluation. I am sure we will continue to see many more enhancements to passenger transport services emerging from these and future applications,” said Mr Gosche.


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