Public bus pitch could be a ‘life-changer’ for Hauraki, Thames-Coromandel


Denis Tegg is fighting for a public transport connection that could feature an electric bus and a modern booking app.

Teresa Ramsey/Stuff

Denis Tegg is fighting for a public transport connection that could feature an electric bus and a modern booking app.

One man is fighting for a public transport connection that could provide an electric bus, a modern booking app, and a lot more freedom for coastal and rural residents in Thames-Coromandel.

Denis Tegg has been speaking with local and regional councils about a potential bus “hub” that could connect towns across the peninsula.

The sub-regional hub idea comes after the success of Tegg’s Thames Connector public bus service, an initiative he pitched to community board members back in February 2017.

“Public transport is designed for people who are transport disadvantaged,” Tegg told Stuff.

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It took two years for Denis Tegg to establish the Thames Connector bus service, and it’s been a real success, he said (file photo).

Teresa Ramsey/Stuff

It took two years for Denis Tegg to establish the Thames Connector bus service, and it’s been a real success, he said (file photo).

“For Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki, already 30 per cent of the population is over 65, and they are the people who don’t have a car. That’s why it was so successful in Thames,” he said.

“I’m aware of couples where one has gone into a rest home and the other is at home without a vehicle, and so wasn’t able to visit their own spouse, and now they can because they take the bus.

“That gives an idea of how life-changing public transport can be.”

Tegg’s latest pitch includes four possible options.

The first is connecting Coromandel Town with the current Thames Connector bus. This option would eliminate the costs involved in purchasing a second vehicle, he said.

The second option is creating an internal service in Whitianga, similar to what is being done in Thames.

“It’s spread out, with a lot of old people, retirement villages … it’s much the same demographics and geography that has made the Thames one so successful.

“Option three is the subregional hub,” Tegg said.

The subregional hub plans to establish one vehicle, potentially electric-powered, and twice a day, every day, it would commute between towns.

The subregional hub plan would have one vehicle, and twice a day, every day, it would commute between towns within the Hauraki and Coromandel districts (file photo).

Libby Wilson/Stuff

The subregional hub plan would have one vehicle, and twice a day, every day, it would commute between towns within the Hauraki and Coromandel districts (file photo).

For example, on day one it might travel between Tairua and Thames, on day two it could travel from Whangamata to Thames, and on day three it could travel between Paeroa to Thames, Tegg said.

Option four includes incorporating a connection to Hamilton, utilising the current Te Aroha-Morrinsville-Hamilton Busit service.

“It’s a question now of: who wants to be involved?”

Tegg said funding would likely be split between NZTA providing 51 per cent of costs, and local ratepayers supplying the remaining 49 per cent.

Involved councils would have to work out how the funding would be divided, he said.

“The whole thing is challenging, because there’s a lot of moving parts to it. You’ve got to get everyone on the same page, and that’s not easy.”

The subregional hub option could also feature an “on demand” booking system – with passengers able to book a trip online or over the phone right up until the bus departs.

It’s still early days, Tegg said, with councils yet to decide whether to pursue the project, but he hopes a new bus service could be up and running by mid-2021.