By Rudie Verhoef, Liz Abbott and Peter Dowden
The Otago Regional Council (ORC) provides a bus along State Highway 1
which goes in and out of Karitane via Coast Road then back to State
Highway 1, with three return trips each weekday.
The contractor who provides this service for the ORC has just changed
(on 1 July). The service formally run by Palmerston Minibus Services
is now operated by Passenger Transport, a private company originally
the Invercargill City Council bus department. PT will operate a
33-seater, leather-upholstered bus with a DVD player on the route. It
remains to see if people on the new bus appreciate the DVD player, but
certainly Graeme McDonald, the previous bus driver, will be missed by
many of his happy passengers.
We would like the current service to be rerouted to continue along the
Coast Road past the communities of Seacliff and Warrington. A bus
shelter has been recently relocated and refurbished at Seacliff and
there is an existing bus shelter at Warrington.
We understand a service along the Coast Road was last trialled in 1999
for four days. Since then, the demographics of the area have changed
with more young families moving to the area. The road has also been
completely sealed and the cost of fuel has escalated in this time.
Many young families have moved into the area. Resource consents have
been given for a backpackers and a café at Seacliff. Residents should
be able to shop at the closer neighbouring villages of Waitati,
Karitane and Waikouaiti where improved community amenities are
available. A public bus service would improve community health in the
The ORC commissioned a report on the Feasibility of Public Transport
Services to Warrington and Seacliff. The report concluded "it is not
viable to run a special bus service to Warrington and Seacliff at this
time. Instead residents of these localities should be encouraged to
take the weekday Palmerston-Dunedin bus, using informal park and ride
at Evansdale and Waitati." Note the discussion of a "special service"
to Warrington and Seacliff: the report did not explore the option of
rerouting the current service along the Coast Road.
The ORC's director of policy and planning Fraser McRae said that they
did not compare 2006 census data quantifying Coast Road residents
versus Merton Waikouaiti-Waitati Highway residents when deciding the
route. Fraser did not comment on how many schoold students use the
current service or tell us what patrons were asked including demand
for a weekend bus service.
The last trial of a bus on Coast Road was in 1999. ORC transport
manager Bruce Ramsay comments, "Commercial operator Ross Mini Services
undertook a trial routing the service along the Coast Road to assess
demand. Despite advance publicity to the community, he stopped the
trial after four days as he had carried a total of only four
passengers in these four days."
Fraser McRae declined to comment on changes in the Coast Road area
since the trial and how or whether these were taken in to account.
Along with many other submitters to the ORC's Annual and Long Term
plans, we have suggested that rather than promoting further the
current "park-and-ride" option via Evansdale, they could connect
Warrington and Seacliff residents by rerouting the existing Palmerston
service along the Coast Road where bus shelters already exist at
Warrington and Seacliff. (Of course, then Hawkesbury, Merton, Kilmog
and other Waikouaiti-Waitati Highway residents would need, in the
regional council's words, to use "informal park-and-ride at
Fraser McRae's reply to this sucggestion is, "commuters prefer direct
routes when travelling", to which we say, "Exactly! Which is why Coast
Road residents don't want to drive their car several kilometers,
leaving it parked on the side of State Highway One."
We at the Ministry of Blueskin Bay Transport would like readers to
think about this: that Coast Road rather than State Highway One is the
"direct route" between Palmerston and Dunedin, since it serves the
most populated areas. This route through Karitane Seacliff and
Warrington adds approximately 5 minutes to the trip for the passengers
from Palmerston and Waikouaiti.
(to be continued next month)
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