$15,000 paint job for Porirua bus
Porirua’s community bus is to get a $15,000 paint job before it carries a single passenger.
The bus that Porirua City Council received a $60,000 grant for in April, was bought for $42,100, but has not been used because, along with the paint job, it also needs $4000 worth of repairs.
It was intended to make the bus available to all Porirua schools, providing students with transport to educational and sporting activities.
Documents show its estimated $50,000 a year operating costs were to be met by sponsorship and grants, with the council meeting any shortfall.
There is no mention in the documents of users being asked to pay for using it, which is what a council source claims is now being considered.
The council has said only: ‘‘We expect to have the operating policy finalised in the next week or two.’’
It declined a request from KapiMana News to supply a picture of the bus in its current state.
Council spokeswoman Robyn Steel said the bus was purchased in working order, but needed $4000 work to put it into service. It was hoped to have it available for use in mid-October.
The source also claimed it was not thoroughly checked over and needed $4000 of ‘‘minor remediation works’’ carried out on it, including repairs to its gear box.
Porirua mayoral candidates lined up to condemn the council’s handling of the project.
Euon Murrell, who voted in favour of the purchase under the proviso it would be free to schools, said: ‘‘We went into this with the belief that it was going to be fully funded. If it’s not, then that is perhaps a concern."
Mike Duncan was firmly against digging into ratepayers’ coffers. ‘‘If it’s self-funding, that’s fine, but that’s got about as much as a snowball’s chance in hell of being self-funding.’’
Gordon Marshall questioned whether the council had ‘‘explored all the options’’ before committing to it.
‘‘I don’t want any schools to have to pay. Making it user-pays, in my book, that’s kind of shocking.’’
Mike Tana wondered whether spending thousands of dollars on a paint job was appropriate. ‘‘Is it a good use of money? I’d question that.’’
Liz Kelly said: ‘‘I appreciate the sentiment, but it seems to me that it’s all turning to custard.’’
David Watt said: ‘‘It would’ve been nicer if they’d found a bus that was more purpose-fit.’’
Duncan and Kelly questioned whether local government should be providing a bus service at all. Both believed it was the responsibility of central government.