Council on board for Blenheim to Renwick bus
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.
Renwick Smart and Connected chairman Joe Keighley says a bus service will help older people in the community.