In response to public requests for better public transport links between Coromandel town, Thames, Ngatea and Paeroa, Waikato Regional Council (WRC) has proposed some options and is inviting feedback .
These options all involve keeping the “Thames Connector” service within Thames township, but using the same bus for the new services as this keeps costs down significantly for ratepayers. (Using a second bus would add $50,000 – $60,000 to the cost).
These are not firm decisions – the options are provided to encourage public discussion and get feedback.
The options for a new bus service from Coromandel to Thames and Thames to Paeroa would be on weekdays, before and after the existing service in Thames. Users of the service would arrive in Thames or Paeroa in the morning, be able to spend most of the day shopping, visiting friends or for appointments, and return home in the late afternoon. Other settlements like Kopu, Ngatea, Turua, Tapu, Waiomu and Te Puru would also benefit, and a return trip from Thames to Hamilton would be possible.
Four possible options are –
- Retain the existing Thames Connector service within Thames Township
- Coromandel to Thames early morning and Thames to Coromandel afternoon (as well as the Thames Connector bus). Thames Coast people could use this service.
- Thames to Paeroa via Ngatea early morning to meet the Paeroa – Hamilton bus (which leaves Paeroa at 6.45 am.) Returning Paeroa via Ngatea to Thames arriving 8:30 AM (as well as the Thames Connector bus). Then an early evening service from Thames to Paeroa via Ngatea to meet the Hamilton to Paeroa bus which arrives at 6.55 pm. Then back to Thames arriving around 7.30 pm. This would allow Thames residents to visit Te Aroha, Morrinsville and Hamilton and back on one day.
- Leaving Coromandel early morning to Thames – Paeroa – Thames. This would NOT connect Coromandel with the Paeroa – Hamilton bus which leaves Paeroa at 6.45 am. A late afternoon service would then run – Thames – Ngatea – Paeroa – Thames – Coromandel. (as well as the Thames Connector bus)
Take the Poll
Further details about the options including rough ballpark estimates of costs can be found at this link
Coromandel to Thames, adult $7.90 child $5.50
Thames to Paeroa, adult $4.10 child $2.90
SuperGold card holders would still travel free on the Thames Connector service between 9 AM and 3 PM but other services outside of these hours do not qualify for SuperGold.
Cost to the Ratepayer
For the first 6 – 12 months ratepayers would have to pay all of the extra cost of any new service, (less fares collected.) But after a successful trial the New Zealand Transport Agency pays half the cost just as they do for local roads. The cost to the ratepayer is therefore minimal eg. the existing Thames Connector service costs Thames ratepayers about the equivalent of 1-2 cups of coffee per year.
- WRC is investigating a cost sharing arrangement with the University of Waikato for the University’s Thames to Hamilton service.
- A “demand responsive “service for 2021 from Thames to Coromandel, Thames to Paeroa and Thames to Tairua/Whangamata and back twice a day is also being investigated. “Demand responsive” means that the public can book a ride from their home or other place using a smart phone app, a landline or a physical booking.
- An electric bus is also being considered for future services.
Denis Tegg – Waikato Regional Council representative for Thames-Coromandel