Bus un­der threat

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMISTER

The fu­ture of two ma­jor bus routes in Ran­gi­tikei is murky as de­clin­ing pas­sen­ger num­bers force Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil to re­con­sider their vi­a­bil­ity.

The daily ser­vice, from Mar­ton and Tai­hape to Palmer­ston North and Whanganui, has been ques­tioned each year its con­tract ex­pired since it be­gan in 2012.

Hori­zons trans­port ser­vices man­ager Phil Hin­drup said the pas­sen­ger trans­port com­mit­tee would consider the fu­ture of the ser­vice on Oc­to­ber 17. The com­mit­tee would as­sess the route’s us­age and fare re­cov­ery.

‘‘No de­ci­sion re­gard­ing the con­tin­u­a­tion or dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the ser­vice has been made at this time.’’

Pas­sen­ger num­bers on the Mar­ton to Palmer­ston North route de­clined by al­most 2000 from 4863 in 2015, to 2575 in 2016. Mean­while, the cost to run the ser­vice has in­creased from $37,031 in 2015 to $47,777 this year.

Pas­sen­ger num­bers on the Tai­hape to Palmer­ston North route in­creased last year from 284 in 2015 to 296. How­ever, so have the costs to pro­vide the trans­port – $4355 when it started in 2012, com­pared with $8280 in 2016.

Be­tween De­cem­ber 2013 and No­vem­ber 2014, 260 trips were recorded on the ser­vice. This was down on the 324 trips recorded in the 12 months prior, dur­ing the ser­vice’s first year.

The first bus leaves Mar­ton for Palmer­ston North at 7am, re­turn­ing at 5.10pm. The Whanganui leg leaves Mar­ton at 10am and re­turns at 3.30pm. It can be caught in Bulls and San­son on the Palmer­ston North route, and in Tu­rak­ina on the way to Whanganui.

The Tai­hape to Palmer­ston North ser­vice leaves at 9am, re­turn­ing at 3.30pm with stops in Ohin­gaiti, Hun­ter­ville, Mar­ton, Bulls and San­son. The Whanganui leg passes through Ohin­gaiti, Hun­ter­ville, Mar­ton and Tu­rak­ina.

In its monthly Ran­gi­tikei Line pub­li­ca­tion, the Ran­gi­tikei District Coun­cil urged res­i­dents to use the buses.

‘‘Buses keep us to­gether,’’ it said. ‘‘We do not want to lose our ser­vice so let’s make use.

‘‘Ran­gi­tikei district is for­tu­nate to have a bus ser­vice that links our com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and keeps us in touch with our neigh­bour­ing cities.

‘‘Not ev­ery ru­ral com­mu­nity in New Zealand is so lucky.’’

The district is spread over a large area – about 100 kilo­me­tres from north to south.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The Tai­hape to Palmer­ston North and Whanganui route is un­der threat.

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