Bus service scores well

The Connector bus pulls out of the stop at Stratford on its way north.
The Connector bus pulls out of the stop at Stratford on its way north.

Taranaki's Connector bus service is proving even more successful than predicted.

Four months since it started just over 90 passengers a day are using the service, with most of them very happy with it.

A customer survey completed recently showed most passengers were very happy with the service, Taranaki Regional Council transport services manager Chris Clarke said.

"We got an 88 per cent overall positive rating for questions such as was the bus on time, the level of service, was it value for money, with customers rating us between 1 and 10, and the lowest we got was a 5."

"We're really pleased, it has been phenomenal, well above expectations. We have had days when a couple of people have had to travel standing from Inglewood to New Plymouth because the bus was full."

WITT students, who travel free, comprise 58 per cent of the passengers, with 17 per cent Taranaki District Health Board passengers and the remaining 10 per cent other adults using the service.

Several WITT students travelled regularly from Opunake to attend their courses.

He had heard of other students who had decided to study at WITT because the service gave them free transport from home to classes, he said.

At the end of June, the service had carried 8027 passengers, averaging 93 people a day. The early morning and late afternoon trips were the most popular as WITT students used them to travel to and from their courses.

By tracking where passengers boarded and alighted, the regional council could also see people using the service for journeys between other points, such as Norfolk to Normanby, not just the main towns.

"Its not just the main centres; that's what we wanted to see happen," he said.

There had been requests to allow super gold card holders cheaper fares and the management was still investigating how this could be achieved, he said.

The Taranaki service was set up without New Zealand Transport Agency assistance funding as the authority had a moratorium on new service funding until June 2015, but Clarke hoped the authority would be willing to contribute to the cost next time around. "We are doing our best," he said.

Meanwhile, St John has a complementary health shuttle which covers all the towns between Hawera and New Plymouth for people who are unable to use the regular bus: Phone 06 278 6140.