Free school bus gets green light for year

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JARED NI­COLL

Porirua’s free school bus will run for at least an­other year, thanks to coun­cil and com­mu­nity sup­port.

Coun­cil­lors agreed to con­tinue sup­port­ing Te Pahi, at a po­ten­tial cost of about $65,000 from 2017 to 2018, at an An­nual Plan meet­ing on June 8.

Te Pahi has pro­vided a free ser­vice for low-decile schools, and fer­ries chil­dren to swimming lessons and ed­u­ca­tional trips they might other­wise have missed for lack of trans­port since Oc­to­ber.

While about $8000 has al­ready been raised in spon­sor­ship, North­ern ward coun­cil­lor Anita Baker has been work­ing away se­cur­ing an ad­di­tional $20,000 so far to help cover the cost, with strong po­ten­tial for more.

Speak­ing at the coun­cil meet­ing, coun­cil­lor Ross Leggett sup­ported the move, point­ing to the work put in by Baker, and the coun­cil’s fo­cus on help­ing young peo­ple.

‘‘We’ll get it for an­other year, and look at how it’s struc­tured in the long-term.’’

Mayor Mike Tana said he too sup­ported the bus, but the coun­cil needed to be sure its ben­e­fit to the com­mu­nity was worth any cost to ratepay­ers.

‘‘It came from the last coun­cil, and it’s our bus to man­age ap­pro­pri­ately. It has to be a vi­able op­tion, and part of that is to have fund­ing.’’

It was run­ning well, and had a busy load of book­ings for the next year.

Te Pahi op­er­ated al­most every day of the school year, and has been avail­able to 24 decile one to four schools - about half of all stu­dents in Porirua schools.

Coun­cil­lor Kylie Wi­hapi said she would like to see it used more by all schools, not just the lower decile ones.

If spon­sor­ship could not be se­cured to cover the full bud­get, the out­stand­ing cost for op­er­at­ing the bus would be met by re­al­lo­cat­ing sav­ings in other coun­cil bud­gets.

Glen­view School stu­dents were among the first users of Te Pahi, which hit the road last year.

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