Pressure on for earlier return

By Emily Norman -
1 comment
The pressure is on to get timetable changes on weekends.
The pressure is on to get timetable changes on weekends.

A timetable change for Wairarapa's weekend trains could happen if enough demand is there.

Greater Wellington Regional Council's public transport manager Wayne Hastie said they would consider trialling a train timetable change to accommodate Wairarapa commuters if there was "sufficient demand for it".

There is currently only one day-travel option from Wairarapa to Wellington at weekends which leaves Masterton at 7.50am and returns more than 12 hours later at 8.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

"If we're talking about changing the timetable to make it a shorter day trip for younger families, it would be more than a 'tweak'," Mr Hastie said.

"While it sounds pretty simple, for example, to change the times of the Sunday service so families can return earlier, we would probably upset a lot of other people, particularly young people who board at Wairarapa schools during the week.

"Returning to Masterton by 8.30pm suits them as it means they can have a full Saturday and most of Sunday in Wellington.

"However, a timetable change could certainly be considered on a trial basis at least, if there seemed to be sufficient demand for it."

Mr Hastie said about 80 people used the Saturday service from Wairarapa to Wellington, and about 200 on Sunday.

He had previously said that adding more weekend services to the line was "not justified" by the current passenger levels.

This response sparked an online debate on the Wairarapa Commuters Facebook page, with commenter suggesting that GWRC should at least trial additional or tweaked services before ruling them out as not being in demand.

Facebook user Christine Tracey commented "Sometimes it's not until you expand services that demand occurs -- you don't always have to rely on demand being there first.

"If that was the case we would all be turning up to the station even though we knew we wouldn't get a train!"

Facebook user Leanne Gupwell commented that there were lots of options to improve or increase the service and that lots of good ideas had been offered "but most commuters have given up filling in the Surveys etc because nothing ever changes".

Mr Hastie said GWRC would "certainly" include the issue of Sunday service demand when it next reviewed Wairarapa public transport services, but said "at the moment, our indications are that potential interest in and demand for more weekend services is not likely to be sufficient to justify putting on more services at the weekend".

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