Service bus needs users
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.