Thursday, May 30, 2024

Councils asks commuters to get on board bus trial

Whanganui District Council and Horizons Regional Council have joined forces to accelerate plans for a high frequency bus trial.

The councils will be asking for feedback on local transport use and plan to use the insights to motivate people to take part in the trial which is set to begin in 2023.

Whanganui District Council’s climate change advisor, Caroline Arrowsmith, says, “Along with encouraging active transport like cycling and walking, improving public transport services so that more people use them is a key action towards reducing the effects of climate change.”

Transport accounts for 27% of the Whanganui District’s carbon emissions.

“Petrol car use is, for many of us, our largest contributor to emissions,” says Ms Arrowsmith.

The 2022 Whanganui Public Transport Service survey encourages people to consider the bus as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Participants are asked to identify barriers such as accessibility or information gaps that currently prevent them from using local buses.

“This locally focused survey will give us a picture of why people use the transport they do, and reveal how we can help shift transport options in Whanganui towards ones that are better for the environment,” said Ms Arrowsmith.

The Whanganui urban bus service provided by Horizons Regional Council is already one of the largest operating in the region. A new high frequency bus route will be trialed in 2023 and insights from the local survey will inform how both councils can encourage people to take up public transport.

The survey is live until midnight on Saturday, 30 April and participants who complete it can enter into a draw to win a $100 supermarket voucher.

The Whanganui-focused survey is not the only opportunity for people to have their say on public transport. Horizons launched consultation on its Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32 plan last week and is calling for feedback on the future of public transport across the region.

“A key area of focus within the draft Plan is reducing emissions and traffic congestion – to do this we hope to triple patronage on our public transport services by 2032,” says Horizons Regional Council transport manager, Mark Read.

“So, we also want to know what would make someone switch from using a private vehicle to using a bus, not only within urban centres but to connect with other cities and towns within the region as well.”

With factors like increasing fuel prices, both councils believe more people may be considering their options for getting around. They say the Whanganui bus service may offer a cheaper solution compared to private cars, with a maximum fare of only $2 with a Bee Card, or free for SuperGold Card holders at off-peak times. 

“Whether you have a Bee card and hop on a bus, or walk – or don’t use public transport at all, and whether you travel a lot or only occasionally – we want to hear from as many people as possible to help shape future public transport services in our city,” said Ms Arrowsmith.

To complete the 2022 Whanganui Public Transport Service survey, visit: https://bit.ly/3OoXXTv

To give feedback on the Horizons Regional Council draft Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32, visit: haveyoursay.horizons.govt.nz between 11 April and 12 May.

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