Ser­vice bus needs users

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A com­mu­nity bus in Porirua East may be axed due to low user num­bers, but many res­i­dents are not aware it ex­ists.

Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil in­tro­duced the com­mu­nity bus on Fe­bru­ary 20 as part of its re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of lo­cal bus ser­vices.

A reg­u­lar bus ser­vic­ing Ranui was can­celled dur­ing the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion, and the com­mu­nity bus is be­ing tri­alled as a re­place­ment, as the No 220 bus from Aotea to Ti­tahi Bay misses Ranui.

The com­mu­nity bus op­er­ates like an air­port shut­tle – pas­sen­gers have to ring ahead to book a seat, and the bus picks them up and drops them off at their homes.

How­ever, many res­i­dents are not aware the ser­vice ex­ists, Porirua City coun­cil­lor Robert Rangi says.

‘‘I’d hate for it to be canned only be­cause they didn’t know about it.’’

The re­gional coun­cil has ex­tended the bus trial pe­riod to Oc­to­ber 15, af­ter which it will be can­celled un­less more peo­ple use it.

‘‘Use it or lose it,’’ Mr Rangi says.

The ser­vice is free for Su­perGold Card hold­ers, and costs be­tween $3 and $4.50 for other pas­sen­gers, de­pend­ing on the length of their jour­ney.

It can trans­port pas­sen­gers to Wai­tan­girua mall, the rail­way sta­tion, Porirua CBD and Kenepuru Hos­pi­tal.

A sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of Porirua East’s 10,000 res­i­dents are el­derly, and could ben­e­fit from free trans­port to go shop­ping, pay bills and visit the hos­pi­tal, Mr Rangi says.

Can­nons Creek res­i­dent Bob Turner had never heard of the bus un­til he re­ceived a letter from the city coun­cil urg­ing res­i­dents to make use of it.

‘‘No­body knows it ex­ists,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t think it’s been prop­erly ad­ver­tised.’’

The re­gional coun­cil could have done more to pro­mote the bus, says its se­nior pub­lic trans­port plan­ner Adam Lawrence.

The ser­vice was not ad­ver­tised when it was in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary as the coun­cil feared any mes­sage would get lost among other changes be­ing made at the time.

Coun­cil staff are now con­tact­ing lo­cal com­mu­nity groups urg­ing them to spread word of the ser­vice.

‘‘It will cease to op­er­ate if peo­ple don’t start us­ing it,’’ Mr Lawrence says. ‘‘If you value it and need it, use it.’’

Cur­rently an av­er­age of two pas­sen­gers use the bus per trip, and the coun­cil will can the bus un­less that num­ber is dou­bled by Oc­to­ber 15.

Even then, the coun­cil will re­con­sider the book­ing sys­tem and the size of the ve­hi­cle to at­tempt to re­cover 20 per cent of its costs.

If the bus is can­celled, Ranui res­i­dents will have no ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port, Mr Lawrence says.

‘‘The big­gest peo­ple that are go­ing to be im­pacted are the peo­ple at the top of Ranui.’’

Porirua East com­mu­nity bus ser­vice trav­els from Wai­tan­girua to Kenepuru at 9am, 11am and 2pm, and in the op­po­site direc­tion at 10am, noon and 3pm, Mon­day to Fri­day. Book one hour ahead by ring­ing 910 5179.

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