Frequency beats dizzy spin

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 06/08/2014

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Dear Horizons:

Thank you very much for your invitation to comment on your public transport proposal "Building better buses".

I have some opinions I would like to share.

From time to time I have travelled on your buses.

My young adult/teenage children have used them more often, and I have been grateful for the break from driving them around in my car.

Unfortunately, they are most likely to be moving around the city at weekends and evenings, when there are few buses around.

So, could you fix that please?

There are several things which discourage me from catching a bus more often.

Every day, as I drive to work - it takes about seven minutes - I pass a bus on my route that is travelling the wrong way.

If only it was travelling in the same direction as me, it would be perfect. If I was to catch the earlier bus, I would have to leave the house about 15 minutes earlier, and be late for work, or alternatively, leave 35 minutes earlier and travel the long way around the suburbs.

You might not think this is a big thing, but believe me, some of us do not like mornings.

My choices for getting home from work are OK, but if I don't get out of the office by 6pm, I'm stuck.

If for any reason I wanted to pop home during the day, I could walk sooner than wait 40 minutes for a 15 minute bus trip.

So, I guess that's the essential point for me.

Greater frequency please.

The other thing that worries me is knowing which direction the bus will be coming from, which side of the road to stand on, and when.

So, please stop them from alternating.

I guess that means I prefer your proposed lollipops routes to the existing roundabout tours.

The loop on my particular lollipop is quite a big one, but I am assured the bus will travel the same way around it every time, so that would be nice.

I see the lollipops proposal also includes some routes that would make it easier to get to the airport and the hospital on a bus.

Yes, please.

You've also asked me to consider whether I would like to give you another $200-odd dollars a year to help pay for a grid system, a sort-of criss-crossing patchwork of intersecting bus routes.

I appreciate the thought.

You're saying buses are better than cars, and everyone could afford extra bus fares if they were saving heaps on vehicle running costs.

It reminds me of living in Christchurch, where a person could confidently stand at a bus stop anywhere, anytime, and expect a bus to be along shortly.

It's a like central Wellington. It's what everyone does.

I'm not sure Palmerston North is ready for such a bold move yet.

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And I think we might just be snobs. I think this dates back to a time when public transport in this city was virtually non-existent, and we invented the term "transport disadvantaged" as a euphemism for people who were poor and probably struggling with ill health or disabilities.

This attitude was apparent when I organised a tweenies birthday party which involved catching a bus to town to see a movie.

Mothers were most alarmed. I can only imagine what they imagined would happen to their daughters on a bus.

Don't dismiss the grid option.

I suspect, from what you have said, that the improvements to the service are going to be incremental rather than all at once.

Which would be good.

You don't want to estrange today's loyal bus users in order to attract new patrons. Ease them into it.

And thanks to Rachel Keedwell for directing me to this quote, I think from the former mayor of Colombian capital Bogota, Mr Enrique Penalosa.

"A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation."

End notes:

The city council reporter is mourning the passing of the council's distinctive pink-covered agendas that have decorated newsroom desks for about 30 years.

They have been replaced by a more modern and authoritative sweep of peach, a shade rather close to the overworked beige tones of our era, with a coloured coat of arms.

On the back of the cover is a colour photograph of The Square and a list of committee members, then wham, straight into the order of business with no distracting page of instructions about how to talk to councillors.

For now, those of us who are digital migrants are just pleased there is still something to hold and doodle on.

Inevitably, the paper version will be phased out, but the investment in a new frontispiece - in-house designers and an extra $7 per print run - suggests it's not all over yet.

- Manawatu Standard

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