INDEPENDENT NEWS

Public Transport Numbers Increasing

Published: Fri 10 Aug 2001 09:31 AM
Public Transport Numbers Increasing – Patronage Funding Starting To Pay Off
9 August 2001
The Auckland Regional Council is thrilled that numbers of people using public transport in Auckland are skyrocketing following Transfund’s new patronage funding scheme.
Under the Government’s Patronage Funding scheme signed up by the Auckland region last November, Government provides incentives for regional councils to increase passenger numbers by rewarding patronage increases with more funding.
“The region is thrilled that our passenger numbers are up 7.6% over last year’s figures, and it shows that the patronage funding scheme is working. We are putting on new services every month with the assistance of Transfund’s Kick-Start funding and it is certainly paying off for the Auckland travelling public,” said ARC Transport Committee chairman Les Paterson.
“Our initial service boosts are paying off, and we are starting to make moves towards our public transport goals.”
This year’s increase over the agreed baseline with Transfund, 7.6%, amounts to 2.9 million extra passengers for the year to June 2001. This growth should return more than $3.5 million in additional Transfund patronage funding.
“This is exactly what Transport Minister Mark Gosche intended the Patronage Funding scheme to make happen,” said Cr Paterson.
On 12 June 2000 when Mr Gosche launched the Patronage Funding scheme, he stated, “The more people the local authorities can encourage to use public transport, the greater the financial support from the Government. The more public transport use grows, the more money the government will give it to grow even more.”
Last week, Transfund’s chief executive Martin Gummer continued this theme at a Public Transport Marketing seminar. He encouraged operators and councils alike to be “innovative and creative” with Kick-Start funding applications, to make best advantage of the funds available to attract people to use public transport more.
“The message is being received loud and clear in Auckland. We are doing our best to use the money to grow patronage, in a manner that we are confident we can sustain over time,” said Cr Paterson.
“We will be continuing to encourage operators to supply more vehicles and increase their ability to carry more people – expect passenger numbers to increase again next year.”
Some peak time buses are leaving people at the stops because they’re full at the moment. “There is the need to fund even more services, which we are keen to do. We are only limited by the speed with which bus, train and ferry operators can get new vehicles up and running,” said Cr Paterson.
Cr Paterson noted that Auckland Regional Council has been utilising Transfund’s offer of Kick-Start funding to get new services up and running “to the greatest extent we have been physically able.”
“In the three years that kick-start funding will be available from Transfund to start new services, we have already programmed to spend around $8.5 million, with a total kick-start subsidy of $4.9 million expected from Transfund. In the first eight months we have already spent more than $1 million, of which Transfund will pay about $800,000.”
“We fully expect passenger numbers to continue to increase as a result, which will also bring in a greater level of patronage funding from Transfund – funding we need to provide more services.”
“We welcome Transfund’s increased contribution to Auckland’s public transport services. The funding relief is being put to good effect,” said Cr Paterson.
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