Media Release from the Campaign For Better Transport
A petition calling for the introduction of a commuter rail service between Auckland and Hamilton has gathered nearly 8,000 signatures.
The Campaign for Better Transport wants to present the petition to Hamilton and regional politicians in two weeks time, however campaign organiser Jon Reeves describes the coming weekend as “a sprint to the finish.”
“People from all walks of life have signed the petition so far– business people, students, grandparents, retailers and tourists included,” says Mr. Reeves. “But we really want to demonstrate the strong public support for Waikato rail to Environment Waikato and central Government as emphatically as we can.”
Three quarters of those who have signed to date are from Hamilton and Waikato towns that would be served by a commuter rail service.
Volunteers will be collecting signatures at key Waikato events this weekend, including the Ngaruawahia Regatta and markets and festivals in the Hamilton area.
The cost of establishing a commuter rail service running three times a day between Hamilton and Auckland has been estimated at up to $1m. However, Mr Reeves says required subsidies will decrease over time.
“In comparison with the just announced $168.7m funding package for the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway, the cost of establishing a commuter rail service is minimal and would be a good strategic hedge against rising petrol costs.”
“A rail service makes economic as well as environmental sense as obviously commuters won’t need to fund the ownership and operating costs of a vehicle, and they can make good use of their time with laptops and phones, or by simply relaxing and reading the paper.”
“For once Hamiltonians will have a guaranteed time of arrival into Auckland and be able to connect to the regular airport shuttle buses direct from Papatoetoe station,” concludes Mr Reeves.
The petition can be downloaded from here.