Georgie Kay says she takes the bus to work despite figures from Nbus show fewer people are using its service. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Bus commute has ‘many benefits’

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Georgie Kay catches the bus from the Atawhai Four Square every morning to her job in central Nelson.

She is currently unable to drive because of an eye injury, leaving her with just the bus or a courtesy taxi as her options.

She chooses the bus.

“Even though my taxis are paid for, the bus is nicer. It’s always on time, the drivers are nice and I like the fact that I can just sit there and read. It’s just easy,” she says.

The bus takes her directly to the bus depot in Wakatu Square and she pays a “very affordable” two dollars each way.

Nelson Weekly is looking at transport issues around the city as part of a series on commuting which we kicked off last week with a rush-hour race into town between a bus, bike and car.

The bike won, with the bus coming in a distant third.

Georgie is one of 409,571 passengers who have used Nelson’s NBus service in the past year – a figure that is slightly down on the 420,214 the year before.

Nelson City Council attributes the 2.5 percent dip in patronage to the Stoke Loop being withdrawn last year and perhaps lower fuel prices.

But Alec Louverdis, council’s group manager infrastructure, says they are aiming to boost usage with a number of proposed changes to the service this year.

These include new low floor and low emission buses on inner city routes, student/community services card fare reductions, reducing the number of zones to reduce fares, later weekend services and the new Stoke Loop service running between 9am – 3pm, Monday to Friday.

“These changes have come about from feedback from bus users but are just proposals at this stage as part of the Regional Public Transport Plan,” he says.

Electronic ticketing will also be introduced in the second half of this year, which will reduce travel time delays and fares.

Passengers will be able purchase a card loaded with money and ‘tap on’ at a card reader on the bus at the start of the journey and ‘tap off’ at the end, being charged the correct fare.

Thirty-trip concession cards are also available for regular bus users which can reduce the $4 fare from Nelson to Richmond to just $2.80.

Alec also says bus lanes could be an effective option for Nelson but “more work” is required before considering this.

In the meantime, he hopes the proposed changes would encourage commuters to use public transport during congested peak hours.

“With the bus, there are no parking hassles, reduced car maintenance and fuel costs, it helps to reduce congestion on the roads, bike racks on all buses also offer the choice of a combined bus/cycle journey – and it’s affordable.”

“There are many benefits of catching the bus. There is no need to concentrate on traffic – you can read, play games on your phone, answer emails, make a start on work before you even get there, just relax or meet new people.”