Raglan Sunday Bus

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Raglan pushes for Sunday bus
AARON LEAMAN, Waikato Times
Raglan businesses are backing a temporary Sunday bus shuttle to Hamilton, but say a permanent seven-day- a-week bus service is essential for the town's growth.

Raglan Scenic Tours will start operating the six-seater Raglan-Hamilton shuttle on Sunday with up to four Raglan businesses agreeing to act as guarantors for the service.

This week the Raglan Chamber of Commerce held an urgent meeting to discuss the lack of a Sunday service and the impact it was having on the township.

Waikato Regional Council stopped the service in June.

Chamber of Commerce chair Stephanie Philp said accommodation providers were especially hard hit by the loss of the Sunday bus run.

''People who were coming to Raglan on the weekend and leaving on a Sunday now can't leave, it's a bit like Hotel California, you can come but not leave,'' Ms Philp said.

''Some businesses have experienced a 20 per cent downturn since we lost the Sunday bus service. And if people don't come, they don't spend any money at the shops, so local businesses don't benefit.''

Ms Philp said Raglan businesses agreed a permanent seven-day-a-week service was essential for the township, describing it as ''a basic human right''.

The temporary shuttle service will leave twice each Sunday at 10am and 4pm from Raglan iSite.

Return trips will depart from Hamilton Transport Centre at 11.15am and 5.15pm.

''In this day and age it [Sunday service] would seem to be a pretty basic necessity, regardless of the numbers using the service.''

Raglan Community Board chairman Rodger Gallagher said the Raglan community had also suffered with the loss of the Sunday service.

Waikato Regional Council run the Waikato's buses.

''Many people in Raglan have children boarding in Hamilton and Auckland and who previously came home on a Friday and left Sunday afternoon. The lack of a Sunday service has stopped that. Also young teenagers who can't drive would catch the bus into Hamilton to visit the movies, so they've been caught out.''

Regional Council policy and transport group manager Vaughan Payne said the council's priority was to ensure adequate peak services for commuters, especially children travelling to and from school.

In May, the council introduced a Whatawhata service on school days to alleviate overcrowding on the Raglan-Hamilton service.

''With no extra funding available, we had to make a number of changes including the withdrawal of the Sunday service,'' Mr Payne said.

''It wasn't an easy decision to make, but it was going to impact the fewest number of people. Our figures for 2011/12 show we had just under 65,000 passenger trips on the Raglan service, with only 5000 (eight percent) travelling on the weekends, the majority on Saturday.''

Mr Payne said although not everyone was happy with the council's decision, money had to be spent where there was greatest demand ''and that is clearly on the peak services.''

Meanwhile, the council will run a ''special summer'' Hamilton-Raglan Sunday service from December 23 to February 3.

Additional services are also planned for the New Year holidays and Anniversary Weekend.

Bookings for Raglan Scenic Tours' Sunday service can be made via the Raglan iSite or direct to Raglan Scenic Tours (after hours). Tickets cost $10 per person.

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