Greater Wellington Regional Council — Ducking for Cover

F_R_GWRC-logo.pngKāpiti representative Nigel Wilson, Paul Swain Upper Hutt member and Transport committee chair, and Wayne Hastie transport manager attended the October 13 Ōtaki Community Board meeting to speak with members on previous matters and concerns raised by ŌCB and KCDC.

After Mr Wilson’s “glowing” report on the council’s achievements in Kāpiti, he suggested possible resolution to the need for toilets to be installed near the Ōtaki River mouth, was for a combined KCDC-GWRC operation to install toilets. Then the harder questions from the Board around transport were discussed.

“We made a stuff up!”

It was Upper Hutt’s representative Mr Swain who offered his apology to the Board when asked why they never received a response to their GW Long Term Plan submission on transport, back in April. ŌCB had suggested if bus and train services could be linked with schools — a number of Ōtaki students travels south to college and many others travel up to Ōtaki for primary and secondary education.

“We need to get together — your team — our team,” Mr Swain said. “The GW council were looking to a whole new transport (order) we’re going to check routes and costs. There will be a whole new transport committee; transport is 75% of GW’s work.”

To ŌCB chair, Mr Cootes’ question of how much Ōtaki ratepayers transport levy is, Mr Swain responded — per capita of rateable value.“Is this the exact same level as for Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Paekakariki?” asked Councillor Penny Gaylor. “They have a greater level of services.” Mr Hastie replied “Ōtaki only pays 4%.”

Mr Swain then said they were looking at the loop system for Ōtaki’s buses. “The buses to Waikanae and Paraparaumu return — often people can’t get back for several hours,” Board member Chris Papps said. “Also they can’t go to the pictures or have lunch, they have to catch bus leaving Paraparaumu at 12.15 or wait until 4pm.”

Mr Hastie replied they were “reviewing services” all the time, they had an overall look at a 50% cost by passengers across all services.Mr Swain added the “difficulty is meeting trains, a hold-up (for buses) can mean the difference between catching the train or not.”

“With any possible changes in services or routes, costs have to be looked at,” Mr Wilson said. “With the review is our community at risk of losing bus services?” Cr Gaylor asked. To which Mr Hastie said (services) were going out to tender.“There is no intention of removing Ōtaki’s bus service,” Mr Swain replied speedily. “One part of the review will be routes and are they profitable.”

Mr Cootes then suggested they should look at some short term goals, such as bus shelters.“The government is proposing a cap on gold card funding, Greater Wellington’s policy is not to extend it — the time of use,” Mr Swain said. “Council says it cannot afford paying the extra over the current policy cover 9am–3pm. We do need to get clarity for the next few years. We have had strong (passenger) growth with the (superannuitant) Gold Card.”The current hours of use are weekdays 9–3 and after 6.15 and weekends and public holidays. The Government has hinted it may cap what part it pays and get local bodies to cover the extra.

But back to bus shelters!

“We have two issues,” said Mr Cootes. “The promised bus shelters have not yet been installed and the removal of the bus shelter at Te Horo Beach Road.”Mr Wilson again evaded the issue. “At one stage New Zealand Transport had responsibility (for bus stops) the ball had shifted,” he said. Mr Hastie suggested council (KCDC) could fund part of the costs “as Upper Hutt did.”

“There are 3000 bus stops across the regional council area; it would take 200 years to install shelters (at every stop). We don’t have the funds for that. But any shelters that have been removed will be installed in Ōtaki.”

“We are still waiting for one outside Sander’s (Apparel premises),” Mr Cootes said of one approved last year and the Board gaining permission from Sander’s to install on their land.

“We tried very hard early on,” from Mr Wilson.While Mr Swain noted that they look at routes and shelters “there are always two issues.”

Cr Gaylor informed them there had been a number of transport surveys conducted, including by Kāpiti Youth Support and Ōtaki College, where students said transport was a major issue for them. “I think they (surveys) are a good thing,” Mr Swain commented, before the GWRC men left the meeting.

So, still no promises of action or if we will get our promised bus shelters or action over bus routes and timetables.