Res­ur­rect­ing Lee­ston’s bus ser­vice

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

A youth led pub­lic trans­port trial com­ing next year could ease the sense of iso­la­tion in Lee­ston’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Lee­ston Com­mu­nity Com­mit­tee (LCC) chair Lloyd Clausen said the town was once con­nected to the city by pub­lic trans­port routes, from the stage coaches of more than 100 years ago to a more re­cent bus ser­vice. Clausen said there had been a num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into res­ur­rect­ing the ser­vice in the years but noth­ing had stuck.

‘‘We’ve had a few pri­vate com­pa­nies try a ser­vice prior to the earth­quakes. They didn’t last too long.’’

Clausen said the LCC had sur­veyed the com­mu­nity on pub­lic trans­port, find­ing a lot of in­ter­est from schools and the el­derly.

En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury (ECan) pub­lic trans­port strat­egy, plan­ning & mar­ket­ing manger Ed­ward Wright said ECan had re­searched pub­lic trans­port from Lee­ston in 2009, but noth­ing came from it.

‘‘Any ser­vice would need to be fi­nan­cially vi­able. This means that a ser­vice would need to be sup­ported by the com­mu­nity to achieve a 50 per cent re­cov­ery from fares. Peo­ple in the area the ser­vice cov­ered would need to pay a higher pub­lic trans­port tar­geted rate,’’ Wright said.

Sel­wyn Youth Coun­cil (SYC) was work­ing on a week long trial ser­vice in the wider Sel­wyn area to gauge com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

SYC chair Ella McClure said the Sel­wyn Link, a trial bus ser­vice which would al­ter­nate be­tween con­nect­ing Ellesmere and Malvern ar­eas with Rolle­ston, would run for one week next year. Sel­wyn Dis­trict Coun­cil (SDC) com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Ja­son Flewellen said the trial would hope­fully be­gin next April dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

More in­for­ma­tion on timeta­bles, stops and routes would be avail­able closer to the time.

‘‘We’ve just got to make sure ev­ery­one in those com­mu­ni­ties knows what’s go­ing on,’’ Flewellen said.

SDC coun­cil­lor Pat McEvedy said the trial would be timed well in the school hol­i­days, as that would be its time of high­est use.

‘‘Any­thing that’s done to raise aware­ness for the need for pub­lic trans­port in the Sel­wyn is good.’’

For the fu­ture, McEvedy said the Sel­wyn com­mu­nity needed to find an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion for the is­sue.

MATTHEW SAL­MONS/STUFF

Lee­ston in ru­ral Can­ter­bury.

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