Submission to Environment Waikato on the 2009-2019 LTCCP


Name: Judy McDonald, on behalf of Living Streets Hamilton

Organisation: Living streets Hamilton

Postal Address: c/- 29 Claude St, Hamilton 3214

Phone: 07 8552019 or 0274 239191

Fax: 07 8552012

Email: at

We wish to present the group’s comments to the council in person

Living Streets Hamilton wishes to address only the questions concerning Hamilton buses on this occasion

1. Do you agree with the council’s decision to proceed with the previously planned new routes through the east side of Hamilton, the introduction of a new Eastern Loop service and the Rototuna Dial-a-Ride?

Living Streets definitely supports the continuation of the upgrade to the existing bus service – providing no cuts in existing routes are planned! (We argued strenuously for the retention of a number of suburban routes in the past and were very pleased with the outcome, particularly for a number of elderly residents in the Fairfield/ Claudelands area who rely on bus services in their streets to retain their independence.

We would of course like to see a more rapid improvement in services, particularly in terms of frequency of service, as it is this which will make public transport a genuine alternative for all Hamiltonians. The present half-hourly services in most areas, while vastly better than what has been available in the past, are still too far apart to provide an efficient way of getting around the city, especially if more than one bus is required to complete a journey. Services do not connect well, and delays can be considerable. The absence of seats and shelters is also a big impediment to the uptake of bus use on a regular basis. If school students and workers know they face a wet cold wait, standing up every day, they will not be keen to use the service, and it makes usage almost impossible for the elderly, the ill, and the mobility impaired when weather conditions are other than perfect. Some of these items are HCC responsibilities, but the provision of buses is crucial to the provision of the other services.

We acknowledge that cost is always a significant consideration, but the alternative (allowing ongoing car usage for local transport) is also a huge problem, not only in terms of the wider issues such as carbon emissions and peak oil, but also in terms of more immediate factors such as road safety; public health (if we could get the private cars off the roads children and adults could walk or bicycle or catch the bus to school or work, all of which are better for everyone!); cost of road maintenance; attractiveness of the city and therefore its future as a conference and event centre.

2. Do you agree with EW’s proposal to increase fares in July of each year to ensure that any increased costs are shared fairly by bus users and ratepayers?

The simple answer here is no, we don’t. Everyone in a city benefits by the provision of a good public transport system, whether they use it directly or not. As mentioned above, good public transport leads directly to reduced road congestion, lower accident rates, reduced emissions, better air quality (reducing one of your other funding problems), safer walking environments, improved public health because it is attractive and safe to walk and cycle, lower road repair costs, and a generally much enhanced city environment. Walloping increased charges onto the bus users is not the way to improve uptake of a service. It’s doing well – we need to do everything we can to encourage even more people to use the bus regularly. If that needs a bit more subsidy from the ratepayers in general for a few years, it might be a very sensible cost for everyone to tolerate. Once the system is running efficiently, it will start to pay for itself more effectively as well.

From a purely social perspective, it’s also worth noting that a lot of bus users are in the lower income brackets at the moment – they are young, or old, or have jobs that don’t allow them the luxury of car ownership. Putting the fares up puts an unfair burden on those people. Life is hard enough at present – let’s not make it harder for no good reason.

Living Streets is in agreement with the argument presented by Go Public (Hamilton Passenger Transport Advocacy Group) that EW, along with all other regional councils, should be lobbying government to insist that it provides more than 50% of funding for public transport systems. At this level of funding it is very difficult to get a functional system established because of the upfront cost to local ratepayers. Despite a supposed commitment from central government to providing public transport, the funding systems endure it is almost impossible to achieve.

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About Us

Living Streets Aotearoa is the New Zealand organisation for people on foot, promoting walking-friendly communities. We are a nationwide organisation with local branches and affiliates throughout New Zealand.

We want more people walking and enjoying public spaces be they young or old, fast or slow, whether walking, sitting, commuting, shopping, between appointments, or out on the streets for exercise, for leisure or for pleasure.

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