Sunday, July 10, 2011

Metro propose Orbital Route for Timaru urban area

Environment Canterbury Metro is reviewing Timaru bus services, which currently consist of four city centre-suburban routes.

A proposal is that these be replaced by two city suburban through routes and an Orbital style service.

Metro is inviting public feedback on these proposals and has produced a booklet with maps.

Comment Without knowing Timaru well enough to comment on the specific routes, this blogster believes every town and city between 10,000 and 30,000 should have at least one orbital sort of route, operating at least six days a week, serving as many as possible major employment centres, main retail hubs, secondary and tertiary instituitions, hospitals and recreation facilities, long distance bus or or train terminal, and accessible (with 500 metres walking distance) of at least 80% of the population.

And such services not by random chance but by specific Government policy with funding and expertise to back and monitor the policy! Sharing the national public transport tax dollar, protecting communities against future oil price shock, looking after large sectors of limited car access (aging, disabled, independent youth) and making work, shopping, study, recreation  accessible with out private car use, all help smaller centres stay healthy and viable as a place to stay rather than  move away from, viable for locals, visitors and tourists.

Long distance coaches in Europe - the quality and comfort of long distance coach travel in late model vehicles such as these is now very high, offering attractive longer commutes and services cost effective to operate.  A commuter orientated coach service between Timaru and Christchurch would enhance the lives of thousands of tertiary and secondary students, business and retired people, tourists,  and South and Mid-Canterbury locals flying in or out of Christchurch International Airport. Photo Wikimedia Commons [click on image to enlarge]

With regard to Timaru I believe Environment Canterbury must live up to its name and develop commuter coach services between Timaru and Ashburton and Christchurch on business days. On the basis of current commercial tourist coach services [whose operating patterns don't support access to work, school, appointments etc] these could be operated with minimum subsidy per capita across the province yet considerably benefit South Canterbury.

Whether this falls within the scope of the review of Timaru urban services is unknown;  it has fallen through the cracks for many years though hardly rocket science looking at regional and commuter bus and rail services around other NZ provincial centres.

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