Tauranga residents and small business operators continue to endure multiple traffic and parking challenges. Many shop owners in the central district have been essentially driven out of business as a result of the extensive roadworks renovation in recent years.
The main reason is that many of those who would like to visit their favourite local businesses have been largely unable to do so because of the elimination of car parking alongside many of the main streets.
To be clear, I am aware that many of these roadworks, undertaken at the behest of our temporary commissioners of the council, were well overdue – and in some cases workers were excavating underground pipes that should have been replaced decades ago.
That this was not done earlier suggests that previous councils have opted to postpone necessary work to avoid upsetting the rate payers.
That said, however, it is clear that a more structured approach with a better grasp of public needs and regular updates on exactly what is happening and when it might realistically be finished, is well overdue.
It was something of a surprise to me to only find out recently that scores of council staff were entitled to essentially free bus transport. And indeed that gratis bus services are available to many locals who are no longer able to drive. All as part of the perfectly reasonable goal of ultimately reducing traffic congestion.
Better bus usage required
I have been unable to track down exactly how many bus passengers are serviced in the local area. But in my informal monitoring of bus traffic around town and my own and family members’ bus excursions, I can only say that very few buses seem to be crowded with passengers.
I am able to draw upon my experience of alternative public transport options, having lived for many years in Hong Kong, one of the world’s busiest cities. Obviously tiny Hong Kong, with its teeming millions, has been obliged for many years to provide a multiplicity of affordable public transport options.
As I recall, the options ranged from efficient MTR (underground) and KCRC (overground) trains; reasonably priced taxis, trams in downtown HK island, and a variety of large buses.
But what I found to be even more useful there was the vast network of local mini buses, which carry 16 to 19 passengers. These were relatively cheap for passengers and essentially either green and followed fixed routes, or red and could be treated rather like group hire taxis that went where the passengers agreed collectively to go.
They were a great way to get about town, at a speed helped, it must be said, by what appeared to be the rather cavalier approach by the drivers to traffic and speed restrictions.
At this point, as we prepare for the eventual restoration of local council elections, it is time to thank the commissioners for the excellent work they have done.
And think about how best we can build upon the progress they have made and avoid any future transport infrastructure mistakes.
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