Coun­cil on board for Blen­heim to Ren­wick bus

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE - OLIVER LEWIS 1-5 News 7 World 9 Cul­ture 11

A long-awaited bus ser­vice be­tween Ren­wick and Blen­heim is a step closer, with the coun­cil look­ing for a com­pany to run the route.

The an­nounce­ment has been met with ex­cite­ment in the small Marl­bor­ough town, about 12 kilo­me­tres west of Blen­heim on State High­way 6.

But whether or not the ser­vice goes ahead de­pends on cost, and coun­cil­lors will vote on the pro­posal later in the year.

Ren­wick Smart and Con­nected chair­man Joe Keigh­ley said there would be de­mand for a ser­vice, and it would be pop­u­lar with older res­i­dents.

‘‘It would be quite a vi­tal ser­vice for the peo­ple of Ren­wick, es­pe­cially the el­derly and those with­out trans­port,’’ he said.

A daily bus ser­vice be­tween Blen­heim and Ren­wick was be­ing ex­plored by the coun­cil as part of a re­view of the Blen­heim Bus con­tract for 2018.

The bus ten­der was be­ing ad­ver­tised in the hope de­ci­sions could be made by the coun­cil be­fore the end of the year for new ser­vices be­gin­ning next March. Coun­cil fi­nance and in­for­ma­tion su­per­vi­sor David Clark said the con­tract in­cluded the con­tin­u­a­tion of the ex­ist­ing north and south loops in Blen- heim.

How­ever, they were propos­ing to add an ex­tra run on each route be­tween noon and 1pm.

Com­pa­nies were also be­ing asked to pro­vide timeta­bles for an ad­di­tional route ser­vic­ing the Boule­vard Park on Tay­lor and Omaka Land­ing sub­di­vi­sions.

It was pro­posed the Ren­wick and Blen­heim south­west ser­vices op­er­ated four daily re­turn trips, Mon­day to Fri­day, and two re­turn trips on Satur­day.

Clark said the new ser­vices, if ap­proved, would be sub­ject to a three-month trial pe­riod.

The coun­cil was ask­ing for ten­ders with two bus op­tions, 18 and 30-seaters, to as­sess the dif­fer­ence in cost, he said.

The Bay­leys-spon­sored Blen­heim ser­vice was $2 for adults, $1 for school chil­dren and free to preschool­ers and Su­per Gold Card hold­ers.

This would not change, how­ever the fare sched­ule for Ren­wick had been set at $3 for adults and $1.50 for school chil­dren, with Su­per Gold Card hold­ers trav­el­ling free be­tween 9am and 3pm.

Clark said the over­all cost of the bus ser­vice con­tract was likely to in­crease.

It was ap­prox­i­mately $150,000 a year at present, which was off­set by fares, spon­sor­ship and New Zealand Trans­port Agency fund­ing.

The net cost to the coun­cil to op­er­ate the ser­vice for the 2016/17 year was about $47,000.

Coun­cil­lor Cynthia Brooks sup­ported the idea of trail­ing the Ren­wick bus ser­vice to gauge de­mand.

Peo­ple in the town reg­u­larly raised the idea with her, and there was an ex­pec­ta­tion that it would even­tu­ally be im­ple­mented, Brooks said.

‘‘Ever since the bus ser­vice was started in Blen­heim it was al­ways en­vis­aged that at some stage Ren­wick would be added to the route,’’ she said.

PHOTOS: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Ren­wick Smart and Con­nected chair­man Joe Keigh­ley says a bus ser­vice will help older peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

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