As we know, Waikawa Beach is not served at all by public transport. At the very least, you have to get yourself to Ōtaki or Levin to be able to even think about taking a bus or train.
Yet Waikawa Beach has been growing over the last few years, as has the fact that we all need to do our part to reduce factors that contribute to climate change. Sharing transport and reducing travel are two relevant measures.
What’s more, with electric bikes, it could be feasible to cycle to Ōtaki or Levin for errands, but the only way to reach either place until the new Expressway and shared path are built (by 2030) is via the incredibly dangerous SH1, and that’s a huge deterrent.
With all of this in mind, perhaps it’s time to start asking Horizons Regional Council to consider the needs of Waikawa Beach residents in its Draft Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32. Submissions are due by 12 May 2022.
Here are a couple of instant ideas:
What say Horizons provided a weekly shopping bus to Levin, for example? A bus capable of carrying bikes would be good, so folks could load their bike on, be taken to Levin, cycle around to complete their errands and return later. The bike would also allow Strathnaver folks to get to and from a drop-off point in the village — perhaps at the toilet block.
How about a bus to take people to meet and return from the Capital Connection train? For that matter, how about if the train were to stop at Manakau?
Perhaps we don’t think about public transport, because it isn’t there for us. It’s time we started to think about what Horizons could make possible for us and to let them know.
Horizons Regional Council — Have your Say: Draft Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32:
Horizons Regional Council’s public transport services help get people from A to B within and between our region’s cities and towns. Our buses, Capital Connection rail service, Total Mobility scheme and health shuttles mobilise people from all walks of life by giving access to work, education and health services, and enabling people to connect with friends and family. Using public transport also has environmental and congestion benefits as it reduces emissions and the number of private vehicles on the road.
Update, 06 May 2022, I put in this submission as a starter:
I live at Waikawa Beach where we have no public transport options at all. Waikawa Beach however is growing: an increasing number of people are coming to live here.
At the moment the only way to buy groceries and other goods, visit a doctor, eat out at a cafe is to travel to SH1 and then most likely head to Levin, Ōtaki, Palmerston North or Wellington.
The only realistic way to do any activity at the moment is to use a motor vehicle.
Electric bicycles have become increasingly popular in Aotearoa New Zealand, allowing people increased range and carrying capacity. However, Waikawa Beach Road is scary and dangerous to ride on and SH1 is suicidal.
By 2030 cyclists may have more options, with the O2NL Expressway.
In the meantime I would like Horizons Regional Council to consider possibilities for public transport options that could allow Waikawa Beach residents to do their errands. One possibility could be a regular ‘shopper’s bus’ service to Levin which would allow folks to schedule appointments and shopping trips. I believe there is public transport from Levin to Palmerston North — any service from Waikawa Beach could be scheduled to fit in with that.
Such a service could be improved by using ‘buses’ capable of taking bikes so people could cycle around Levin to do their errands. If such buses don’t already exist then it would be prudent to look into how a service like that could be provided. I recall that in Christchurch, where I grew up in the mid-1960s, buses all had hooks capable of holding bikes, prams and so on.
Another useful service would be to meet the Capital Connection train. I know many people drive out early in the morning to Ōtaki and return in the evening. Perhaps start with a survey to discover how many people could use such a service. It would also be useful to include a stop and parking at Manakau.
Given there is no existing public transport option that includes Waikawa Beach it is time Horizons Regional Council started to look into what services would be useful.