Free school bus gets green light for year
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.