Monday, March 29, 2010

Commitment to Integrated Public Transport in Waikato Impressive!

Last month I travelled through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty visiting friends or just checking out some places not visited for many years. Needless to say, being single, "car less" by preference and with such a long fondness for buses and the public transport industry, it was also something of a "busman's holiday".  I don't think that expression is in common use any more - for readers under forty years old  it means doing on your holiday what you do for a living.Well, not quite true, but it roughly fits in terms of my active time and consuming interests, my real passions. I have been reading for five or six years about the very concerted effort by Environment Waikato and local councils, Hamilton in particular, to push their public transport ahead and was keen to see it in action. I must say overall I was very impressed by what I saw of the set up in Hamilton, and also its links to surrounding towns. They have obviously taken a leaf (and a name, "The Orbiter", and possibly some help from Metro in Christchurch) with a central city circulator and middle suburban area Orbital route, as well as a comprehensive route pattern. One gets the feeling here is a provincial town rapidly maturing into a reasonably large city by NZ standards, determined to offer a metropolitan level of public transport. In doing so they are in fact racing ahead of much larger cities.

The integration of Waikato suburban services and support systems (a unitary transport centre with good cafe, bus exchange with both enclosed and out-door waiting areas, real time bus arrival signage, booking and information office, left luggage facilities, taxi stands close to all buses, etc) with all regional buses and long distance services was especially impressive. It leaves the higgledy piggledy muddle of where buses depart from in Christchurch for dead. One can only hope that sometime before the new Bus Exchange is built in Christchurch common sense (and a degree of non car-user awareness in planners)  will incorporate the same beneficial links in Christchurch!

Here's is a wee photograph gallery..

Hamilton's inner city shuttle service - On Board

Drive in back out bays - a world trend
 Hamilton Transport Centre - impressive!

  Integration of taxis & buses maximising travel options

  Regional services - Raglan bus on Saturday morning

Regional services run to Cambridge, Morrinsville etc 

                                                                        Long distance bus at HTC - Auckland -Wellington Naked Bus northbound. Hamilton Transport Centre is also station for Intercity services to diverse locatons.

Timetable info for services to other centres, not yet achieved after almost 20 years by Environment Canterbury! (despite past submissions by an irritating rabbit a couple of years back)

Timetables plasticated on single poles

Experimental (?) solar powered  Real Time sign

The only thing I found less than impressive was the bus service schedule and published timetable operating under Environment Waikato auspices in the outermost reach of this council, - the lakeside town of Taupo. They were to say the least bizarre!

More about that soon (being too bloody late to go any further now!)


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