The Thames bus service began its official service on Monday after a low key but enjoyable official launch and ribbon-cutting.
After only three days of operation, over 85 seniors have already taken a free ride using their Super Gold Card and there have been quite a few cash customers as well. Bus driver Dave told me today that for the first time today there was a time between two stops when there was no one on the bus, but for the rest of the entire circuits for three days there has always been customers.
When the service began on Monday morning from Bupa at Tararu the bus was almost full and some of the other residents were standing on the pavement cheering and waving placards!
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For example these comments from Bill Barclay
Some lovely stories are coming to light from people using the service. For example, a couple that was living together at Richmond Villas, but the husband is now at the Booms Retirement Village and his wife was catching the taxi which she could ill afford, and she is now a regular bus user. A similar story from a couple who were living together at Bupa at Tararu without a car, with the husband now travelling on the bus to the Booms to visit his wife who is now being cared for at the opposite end of town. Before the bus such visits were rare because of the distance and cost.
I personally have used the bus to get to and from work for the last three days. Dave is very personable and friendly, and is willing to give assistance to people if they need help with opening the door or getting on board. The service has run to schedule. It does take a bit of a change in your mindset to have to keep to a timetable.
Before the bus, I used to drive to work but now I can leave the car at home. I worked out that for a 6 km round-trip I save about $.70 in petrol plus the other running costs of the car. I have also calculated that at 138 g of CO2 per kilometre, if I took the bus every day for 48 weeks of the year (I won’t – but for the sake of the calculation) I would save about 0.376 tons of CO2 annually.
By leaving the car at home I also freed up a carpark near the high school where it is often very difficult to find a car park.
The Council have come up with a great new enhancement – you can go to this map on the Council’s website type in your address, or where you want to catch the bus and it will show you the nearest bus stop to that location. Nifty!
It’s early days, but judging from the first three days of the trial, the bus service is going to be a big success.