Waikato Regional Council, Community Waikato and Waikato District Health Board collectively are the Waikato Rural Transport Forum Working Group.
The Waikato Region Rural Transport Forum is a collaborative networking and information sharing opportunity held quarterly throughout the year. It is designed to support the building of relationships and the sharing of information for people and organisations involved in working on rural transport issues and projects. This Rural Transport Forum commenced in March 2010 and will continue to be held until it is agreed by those involved that the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the communities that are most affected by rural transport concerns.
The website project background
In 2012 and 2013, Waikato Regional Council, Hauraki District and Thames-Coromandel District Councils funded work looking into community transport provision in East Waikato. An initial objective of this work was to look for opportunities for coordination among transport providers, to make for more efficient travel between East Waikato and Waikato Hospital in particular. However, conversations with providers and other agencies (including Waikato District Health Board) revealed that external coordination is unlikely to bring any meaningful benefit to people in East Waikato communities. This is because the providers are necessarily reactive to local issues, and they all operate in unique ways to best respond to the specific needs of their communities. This means, for example, that the nature and extent of transport services provided by each group varies significantly.
In February 2015 funding was sourced to create a website for community transport providers and agencies to network and access a central point of information related to regional rural community transport in the Waikato region.
The main conclusion of the work in this area was that the best way for councils to foster strong community transport in local areas is to provide a layer of support for the work that is already happening. Community transport providers value local and regional networks so that they can gain ideas and support for their local efforts, but their inward focus means that they do not have time and resource to arrange regional networking, or to proactively find information about how community transport works in other areas. Therefore, regional organisations such as Community Waikato and Waikato Regional Council are best placed to provide this layer of support and information sharing.