AWARUA Developments Ltd (ADL) has identified an urgent need for a public bus service between Bluff and Invercargill for tourists and Bluff residents alike.
“Transport is an issue for us for the programmes we are wanting to roll out,” ADL project lead Tyrone Strongman said.
ADL was set up late last year by a group of Bluff and Invercargill residents, including representatives from the Awarua runanga, to oversee projects designed to rejuvenate the port town, including the proposed Bluff Oyster World.
Mr Strongman said the bus service was needed urgently.
Not having a public transport service was a hindrance to tourism in Bluff as it discouraged people from visiting the town, he said.
“There is a really urgent need to have it yesterday.”
At present, the only bus services operating between the two centres were a ferry shuttle run by Real Journeys and a school bus run.
Mr Strongman said the bus service proposed by ADL would absorb the Real Journeys shuttle and replace the school bus service, and would be run by ADL if funding was secured to subsidise it.
The Real Journeys’ shuttle was not part of its core business and at present only 10% of ferry passengers used the shuttle.
Under the new service, the ticket price could be reduced by 60%, he said.
The school buses were full and the running costs were “blowing out”, he said.
The proposed bus service would operate three return trips between Bluff and Invercargill in winter and four in summer, Monday to Saturday, with the timetable to coincide with the ferry services and link in with Catch a Bus and Intercity bus services.
A community mini-bus service between Invercargill and Bluff had been trialled by the Bluff Community Board in 2009, but it folded about a year later because of a lack of community support.
Former Bluff Community Board chairwoman Jan Mitchell said it was a limited service, only running two to three days a week, and was not able to accommodate school children, whereas the service being proposed by ADL had a much wider scope.
“I wish them well. If they can get this happening, it is good for the town.”
ADL had put in a submission to the Invercargill City Council’s Regional Public Transport Plan 2018-2021 seeking support for the bus service, and representatives from ADL intended to speak to their submission at an Invercargill City Council (ICC) community services meeting on February 26.
ICC roading manager Russell Pearson said for a Bluff bus service to be commercially viable long term, it would need community support and investors.
ADL had done a good job building its business case, but further work would be needed for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to consider subsidising it, he said.