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Invercargill bus services could be revived by tourism attraction loop

Source: stuff.co.nz 

Invercargill's bus woes could be alleviated by the introduction of a tourism bus loop to city attractions. 

Invercargill-bus-servicesAt a meeting of the Invercargill City Council's community services committee on Monday, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said there had been talk about having a special type of tourist bus.

The bus could travel from the Ascot Park Hotel, to the ILT Stadium Southland and to the museum, Shadbolt said. 

Shadbolt asked if funding for a tourist bus might come from another area of council funding. 

Council roading manager Russell Pearson said there may be other funding mechanisms available for the idea of a tourist route. 

The new route idea might make for a good business case, Pearson said. 

The idea was raised after a report from Cr Lindsay Thomas, who at the beginning of the month took buses around the city five times to test the service. 

Thomas said a concession card for families could encourage residents to use the bus more. 

His second concern after testing the buses was that the routes were too long. There was no reverse route, which meant a journey to the city could take thirty minutes.

Additionally, big retailers like The Warehouse and Farmers were not serviced. The closest bus stop to that shopping district was at McDonald's, Thomas said. 

"This might take quite a major re-jack. It would hopefully highlight theses sorts of things." 

However, Cr Neil Boniface said the buses had already had a "re-jack", when Bus Smart was introduced in 2012.

Passenger numbers have been downward since Bus Smart was introduced, operated by Go Bus.

Bus Smart's four services - the Waikiwi Link, Windsor Comet, Heidelberg Star and Kew Connection - replaced the 10-route buses.

Passenger numbers had likely reduced because the service had been cut back to four buses, Boniface said. 

A transport report to the committee says passenger numbers were decreasing. 

Council is working to engage consultants and speaking to the New Zealand Transport Agency to review the bus service, the report says. 

Speaking after the meeting, Shadbolt said the idea for the tourist bus route had come from Southland Regional Development Strategy discussions. 

"We're in a fortunate position where if you look at the loop concept it's relatively easy to link up all the sites," Shadbolt said. 

"[Invercargill's] public transport sort of doesn't seem to be working, so we should maybe try new things."