Category Archives: Buses

Lunch in Venlo NL

The other week my wife and I stopped for lunch in the city of Venlo, on our way to Wuppertal from Schipol airport. Venlo has a population of just over 101,000 people, with a population density of about 800 people per km2. On leaving the rail station we saw the Venlo bus station, which services 3 bus routes and 8 regional routes (Hamilton has over 20 routes). The station has drive-through berths, allowing bus stops to be located in a compact area, and also can allow buses to wait with their front destination sign facing the direction passengers will arrive from. I like the way the Dutch design tidy and uncluttered areas in a way very few other designers can do.

The city has a reputation for being Green. I did notice the electric bus charging stations, and but sadly I didn’t have time to look into their ‘cradle-to-cradle’ (C2C) principles; in the future I would like to explore this more, but for now here is an introductory explanation

‘The Venlo region was the first in the world to embrace the principles of cradle-to-cradle (C2C). It is a method that minimises the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices, so that products can be 100% recyclable and waste can serve as a raw material.’

Dutch cities are nicer than German cities. Venlo being close to the German and being part of the large Verkhrsverbund* Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) ticketing area, it attracts many visitors from there, and on the Wednesday we were there the city streets and squares were pleasantly busy. (*means ‘Transport network’)

What I did make time for was to take a look at Maasboulevard, promoted as ‘the place to meet’. I’ve visited many cities with river promenades; on sunny days these places attract plenty of people coming out to enjoy the open space and to people-watch, which is the reason why they need width. There is also evidence that residential apartments/homes with water views attract a premium, and add eyes on the street when retail has closed or on quiet days when it is not so sunny.


The day we visited it was a nice but quiet day on the river promenade, so we had a great lunch where most others were meeting, in the more active old market place.

Notes from Schaffhausen

Sorry this post is long. It includes references from NZTA report 396, Cr Dave Macpherson’s 2011 Europe Study Trip Report, my own visit to Schaffhausen and references from Shannon Boorer on ‘Others can do it, why can’t we?’

In 2015 my wife and I spend 2 months in Europe visiting many places, one of them being Schaffhausen, in Switzerland. The tourist attraction here is the Rhine Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Europe (benchmarking to Huka Falls), at 150m Wide (100m), 23m high (20m), with an average flow varying between summer 600 m3/s and winter 250 m3/s (220 m3/s).

What is also of note is that according to NZTA (report 396, page 27)

“Schaffhausen’s public transport is so strikingly successful that we believe it offers lessons for …  New Zealand cities – particularly because Schaffhausen is a small city without a medieval core: roads and parking are relatively plentiful … Public transport’s share of work trips was very high in Schaffhausen …  (Page 51) Six full-time pendulum routes have operated through the city centre to connect opposite sides of the town, at 10-minute intervals, from around 5.30am to 8.00pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and on Sunday afternoons (20-minute intervals at other times) … Regular bus services have been finishing at around 12.30am, but a limited ‘night network’, with services every 30 minutes until 2.00am, has operated on Fridays and Saturdays.”

I’ll come back to the buses later. Firstly, it’s worth noting that in Switzerland, the road markings are minimal and simple to read: white road markings are for motor vehicles, and yellow is for other road users, as shown in these yellow crossing bars on a wide pedestrian crossing. Also note the simple traffic island and posts (photo taken in Fischerhauser St, Schaffhausen).

For shared-use paths the approach is not much different to what we see in Hamilton, (photos show Diessenhofer St and the river path on Rheinufer St).


When it comes to on-road cycle lanes, the design looks more suitable for adults, similar to much of what we have in Hamilton. It’s worth noting that here in New Zealand I’ve seen cycle lanes marked with white lines, then also the yellow dashed line to reinforce the no parking rule. I do like the Switzerland cycle lane and no parking rule explained in a single dashed yellow line.Now back to the buses – according to NZTA (report 396, page 51)

“All buses stop outside Schaffhausen’s main railway station in the city centre, waiting there for two or three minutes while passengers transfer. Every 10 minutes, a dozen buses have converged on the station, lining up on each side of the street outside the entrance, before moving off, one after the other. Each convoy left at exactly 10, 20, 30 (and so on) minutes past the hour … Note the absence of purpose-built bus shelters … car access has been restricted, with the street becoming a pedestrian plaza for most of the day … Heavily discounted season tickets (or ‘periodicals’) have been available, with a monthly ticket costing only twice as much as a weekly ticket. Despite this, cost-recovery rates have been respectable, assisted by strong off-peak loads and full-fare-paying custom. Fare revenues have covered just over half of costs, with a further 10% of the costs covered by a levy on city parking …”

‘Cr Dave Macpherson’s 2011 Europe Study Trip Report’. The following quote is taken from his report.

“The small city of Schaffhausen, in north Switzerland, is a standout example of bus patronage and public transport co‐ordination in a small centre … It has often been suggested in New Zealand that small centres don’t have enough people to support public transport, and that the level of car ownership, and ease of car use, make PT unattractive by comparison. However Schaffhausen proves it doesn’t have to be the case. It is also a relaxed, spread-out little city, with several nearby towns and villages …  and Switzerland has one of the highest car ownership rates in Europe, at about 80% of New Zealand’s rate … One of  the main physical differences in Schaffhausen is the relative lack of convenient car-parking facilities in the central commercial area – they are there, but definitely not right outside the doors of each establishment. Consequently, the Swiss (and other Europeans) have cars, but tend to leave them parked at home while at work, using other modes for commuting, and their cars [are used] for longer family trips and the like … It has also been suggested that the higher car ownership and running costs in Switzerland contribute to people using public transport in preference to cars, but for those owning cars in Switzerland, fuel is almost the cheapest in Europe, little higher than in New Zealand … As a consequence of the much lower use of private vehicles for commuting, and the corresponding higher use of buses (and rail), central Schaffhausen is a pleasant pedestrian and shopping precinct, with several ‘town squares’ surrounded by older buildings in excellent condition … Quite simply, buses are frequent, quick, convenient and cheaper than cars (especially when the cost and time of parking is taken into account) in Schaffhausen unless you cycled or were close enough to walk to work or school. “Why wouldn’t you use them?” was the attitude of local residents.”

For a copy of the full report, please do contact Cr Macpherson; he would more than happy to forward it to you.

I’m also including a link to a comparison between Timaru and Schaffhausen, titled ‘Others can do it, why can’t we?’ Author:  Shannon Boorer, Passenger Transport Strategic Planner, Environment Canterbury

“On the northern border of Switzerland lies a small city which is achieving big things with its public transport system … One of the main reasons used to explain the low level of bus usage in Timaru (and many New Zealand towns) is that it is a small city which simply does not have enough people to support public transport. However, this is proven incorrect in Schaffhausen which has a similar sized population to Timaru but carries over 50 times as many people on the buses every year …..”

There is plenty of myth-busting in the report so do have a read.

Now to benchmark from Wikipedia:

Schaffhausen – population 36,148, area 42 km2, density 860 persons per km2

Hamilton – population 165,400, area 111 km2, density 1,500 persons per km2

Mode of travel:

Schaffhausen (from Report 396) – public transport 41%, walk & cycle 15%, car 44%

Hamilton (2013 census) – bus 3%, walk & cycle 10.5%, car  86.5% (a total of 52,218 people travelled to work using these modes)

Summing up – A high frequency of bus services is the key to growing bus patronage. We have seen this with the Orbiter and most likely will with the new high-frequency 15 min ‘Central Connector’ Hospital to the Base service via Anglesea St. An interesting comment from Report 396 is ‘Note the absence of purpose-built bus shelters’. There are rain shelters, but the above-ground area is largely open, with uncluttered sight lines, and bus drivers expect pedestrians to be moving freely in the same area as moving buses. The Schaffhausen example of keeping transport infrastructure simple and bus service frequent has huge benefits that we should learn from.