Fox­ton man launches pas­sen­ger ser­vice

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

When David Wilde moved from Palmer­ston North to Fox­ton six years ago, he no­ticed the town of about 4500 res­i­dents had no taxi or bus ser­vices.

Apart from a health shut­tle, some peo­ple had no way of get­ting around Fox­ton, he said.

Wilde set the wheels in mo­tion for a pas­sen­ger ser­vice by sur­vey­ing 400 house­holds in the Horowhenua town on their trans­port re­quire­ments.

He found there was enough need for a trans­port ser­vice so he launched Fox­tel – Fox­ton’s only reg­is­tered per­sonal driv­ing ser­vice.

In­for­ma­tion from Sta­tis­tics New Zealand as of June 2017 showed that of 4640 Fox­ton and Fox­ton Beach res­i­dents, 1320 are 65 or older.

In Fox­ton, 35 per cent are over 65 and at Fox­ton Beach 24 per cent are older than 65.

‘‘The pos­i­tive feed­back came pre­dom­i­nantly from our older pop­u­la­tion,’’ Wilde said.

‘‘We de­cided it was worth­while.’’

Most trips within Fox­ton cost about $5 to $10 and with the ser­vice just two months old, word was still get­ting out, Wilde said.

Cur­rently, he makes about 10 trips a week.

Wilde is hop­ing to join Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil’s To­tal Mo­bil­ity scheme.

Fox­ton res­i­dents with re­stricted mo­bil­ity on the scheme would then pay about half the price to use his ser­vice.

The scheme helps el­derly peo­ple and those with dis­abil­i­ties, who can­not eas­ily use public trans­port, get around the re­gion for a dis­counted fare.

Un­til re­cently, the only com­pa­nies Hori­zons al­lowed on the scheme were taxi ser­vices, which ex­cluded pri­vate hire ser­vices such as Fox­tel.

In Oc­to­ber, To­tal Mo­bil­ity co­or­di­na­tor Des­ley Monks said the pass­ing of the Land Trans­port Amend­ment Act 2017 in Au­gust meant all ser­vices were now con­sid­ered small pas­sen­ger ser­vices so they were all on a level play­ing field.

Wilde ex­pects to be part of the scheme by early next year.

He doesn’t have a ve­hi­cle with a hoist, but he can fit fold­able wheel­chairs in the cars.

‘‘When we did our sur­vey we didn’t iden­tify that as be­ing a par­tic­u­lar re­quire­ment.’’

Wilde chose two elec­tric ve­hi­cles as he wanted to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly.

‘‘We are the­o­ret­i­cally self­suf­fi­cient.’’

Horowhenua Dis­trict Coun­cil com­mu­nity well­be­ing man­ager James Rich­mond said Hori­zons was re­spon­si­ble for public trans­port but the dis­trict coun­cil helped el­derly peo­ple by of­fer­ing aqua re­hab classes and other fit­ness classes at Fox­ton Pool to help keep el­derly peo­ple mov­ing.

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