Put simply, Tonnon is passionate about public transport. So much so, that he is the operator of the Durie Hill Elevator in Whanganui. He wants to encourage people to use their local public transport services, and hopes councils will do more to make it possible.
The Silver Scroll nominee was alerted to the University of Otago's Jack Cowie's Masters Thesis, which investigates infrastructure models that our major centres rely on. Cowie's work suggests that city councils should support 'network oriented' transport systems, i.e. a 'build it and the people will come' approach. His findings concur with much of the Environment Canterbury commissioned Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Report, of June this year, but both men hope councils will act sooner on the plans that the report proposes.
The $2 million MRT report investigates the feasibility of Heavy Rail, Light Rail, or regular bus services linking the city to satellite towns, with a projected 30 year long-term goal. In the report, Mayor Lianne Dalziel states that services will "need to be supported with population and employment growth close to stations along the route" however, Cowie's thesis suggests more regularity, reliability and more easily accessible routes, to encourage patronage.
For now Tonnon is using his platform to engage with audiences, and dispelling the 'communal myth' that New Zealand is too small to have viable rail networks, saying "if there's any need for a road, then there's a need for reliable public transport too."