The Waiheke Bus Company has become the first public service bus operator in Auckland to offer bike racks on its buses as a trial and as part of its initiative to help promote cycling as a mode of transport. Waiheke ferry customers can already take their bikes for free on the ferries and now this is extended to the service buses as well. Bike racks have been installed on three separate buses, each capable of carrying 3 bikes each. The racks have been imported from the USA where they have been successfully deployed on public services buses.
The aim is to improve the options for cyclists and many commuters who choose to ride to and from the ferry terminal or who want to explore the island’s many cycle tracks, whilst giving them the flexibility of being able to hop on a bus with their bike in order to venture further, get home after dark when cycling can be hazardous, or in the case of cycling visitors, link up with the 360 Discovery ferry service that calls in at Orapiu Wharf and connects to The Coromandel on a regular basis. The Coromandel shuttle bus service from Hannaford’s Wharf to Coromandel Town now also provides bike rack options meaning cyclists can take their bikes even further.
At the launch at Matiatia today, attended by representatives of Auckland Transport, NZTA, Cycle Action and the Local Board, Fullers CEO Douglas Hudson said “Fullers has been committed to carrying passengers and their bikes on their ferry services for a long time and were awarded for being a cycle friendly business by NZTA at the CAN (Cycling Advocates’ Network)Awards in 2009.
We are very pleased to be able to extend this to the buses on Waiheke Island for the benefit of commuters and tourists who visit the island. This may only be a small step but it has taken a lot of effort to find and import the right racks that are sturdy enough to work effectively on the Waiheke roads. We hope that people will see this as an opportunity to explore more of the island and also connect with the 360 Discovery service that carries passengers from Orapiu at the Eastern end of the island to Coromandel, where the shuttle service from Hannaford’s Wharf to Coromandel town now also has bike racks on board.”
The trial, which will run until the end of Easter, will allow the Fullers owned Waiheke Bus Company to gather data and opinion from users before deciding how to adapt the service and how to develop it further.
Last summer the company worked with Cycle Action Waiheke and Auckland to produce a map of Waiheke cycle touring routes. Publicity about the map has encouraged increasing numbers of cyclists to tour the island, enjoying its cafes, vineyards, beaches and accommodation.
The bike racks are expected to be welcomed by local commuter cyclists and visitors alike. Touring cyclists may be encouraged to ride to the vineyards on the Onetangi Straight or even further afield, rather than stopping at Palm Beach, if they know the bus will help return them and their bike to the ferry or accommodation in Oneroa.
Cycle Action Waiheke supports the trial as an important local transport and tourism initiative for Waiheke. Chair Tony King Turner said “We thank Fullers for taking this step and see it as just the beginning of what could be very exciting developments for cycling on Waiheke. It will also be very important as we work towards our goal of getting Waiheke included in the National Cycle Way program.”
Barbara Cuthbert of Cycle Action Auckland is also impressed with the trial. “..having seen the positive impact that cycling initiatives can have on communities and how it can boost tourism, I am confident that when we look back at this moment in 10 years’ time, we will understand how important this launch and trial is.”
Auckland Transport also strongly supports this initiative and sees it as a good example of the private sector delivering outcomes that encourage integration between cycling and public transport. Such projects link very strongly to the work of Auckland Transport across the region in improving safety for cyclists and encouraging more sustainable travel
The bike racks will be used mostly on the Onetangi bus routes and feedback forms will be available at the Fullers ticket office at Matiatia as well as on the Fullers website.