The Waikato Regional Council is planning a significant refresh for the Hamilton bus network and is seeking input from the public on the planned changes
Regional transport connections director Mark Tamura said the need for a review had been triggered by changes to public transport use over the past two years and feedback about the kinds of services people want.
"We've seen major changes in how people work, learn and travel around Hamilton and the wider region. More people have spent time working and studying from home and we've seen these habits continue, even as we've moved to the Orange setting of the Covid-19 Protection Framework.
"These changes have given us cause to think about our current network – is it still fit for purpose and how could it be improved. We want to make sure the Hamilton buses work for people when they're needed," Tamura said.
The chairwoman of the council's Regional Connections Committee, councillor Angela Strange, said feedback from the public on the proposed changes is critical to ensuring the services are the best they can be.
"To make sure we're on the right track, it's important current and potential bus users take a look at the proposal and provide their feedback," she said
Feedback is primarily being sought on:
• Increasing use of on-demand public transport with a proposal to introduce Flex to the Rototuna and Flagstaff areas
• Replacing the Rototuna Circular route with extensions to the 4 Flagstaff and 5 Chartwell services and the introduction of Flex
• Route changes to 10 Hillcrest and 17 Hamilton Gardens Uni services to better serve the Hamilton Gardens, Knighton Road area and provide faster journey times for Hillcrest residents into the CBD
• Bringing a bus to the Greenhill Park area
• Adjusting timetables to improve reliability and remove some trips that have minimal passengers.
For more information and to provide feedback, visit busit.co.nz/refresh. The feedback period closes on July 4.
At the same time, the council's public transport team is getting ready for the rollout of a number of planned changes to the network in July, including minor changes to the Orbiter, 4N Flagstaff North and a route change in the Temple View area for the 19 Bremworth Temple View service.
Meanwhile, the regional council will proceed with a proposal to pick up responsibility for rating for public transport services in the Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki and Matamata-Piako districts.
The amendment to the council's 2021-2031 Long Term Plan (LTP) was put forward as part of the preparation of council's 2022-23 Annual Plan and was publicly consulted on in April.
Council chairman Barry Quayle said: "After listening to feedback and weighing the options with great care, we have decided to take over rating for public transport services in all three districts.
"We've also agreed not to proceed with the proposed new services, but to continue with more public engagement and more detailed planning of routes and timetables for them, with information to come back to council on impacts and the availability of Waka Kotahi funding at a later date."