Transfer of bus operations 'pricey'

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2014

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Shifting control of the buses from Waikato Regional Council to the Hamilton City Council could come with a hefty price tag, a senior regional councillor has warned.

Regional councillor Lois Livingston spoke at Hamilton City Council's draft annual plan submissions hearing last week and said the regional body was eager to help assess whether it was feasible to have the city run Waikato's public transport.

The city council investigated taking over the region's buses in 2006 and 2008 and on each occasion decided against it.

The council has budgeted $100,000 in its draft annual plan toward investigating the transfer of bus operations to the city council.

Livingston said any swap over would trigger "substantial costs" for each council and take a lot of time.

She said the regional council had not formed a view on whether Hamilton should take over the public transport network from the regional council.

Hamilton's bus network makes up 90 per cent of Waikato's public transport services.

The regional council currently manages the integration of Hamilton bus services with services from Huntly, Raglan, Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Paeroa, Te Aroha and Morrinsville, as well as the provision of bus services in Taupo and on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Livingston said the best time to carry out the bus service study would be during the pending investigation on Waikato local government reform.

The regional council targeted public transport rate in Hamilton is about $7 million a year.

NZ Transport Agency staffer Andrew McKillop said the agency was "less interested" in who ran the buses than it was in seeing a maximisation of the benefits from the investment in public transport.

aaron.leaman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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