Ex­tra bus ser­vices ‘en route’?

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - EMILY HEYWARD

More bus ser­vices could be ‘en route’ to Marl­bor­ough if there is a de­mand for them.

The Marl­bor­ough District Coun­cil is look­ing at a Blenheim to Ren­wick run and an­other route link­ing Burleigh and the Boule­vard Park on Tay­lor sub­di­vi­sion.

Ren­wick Smart and Con­nected chair­man Joe Keigh­ley said a bus ser­vice to and from Ren­wick would be a ‘‘pos­i­tive’’ move for the com­mu­nity.

‘‘We def­i­nitely see it as a need for Ren­wick and it will def­i­nitely ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity out here ... Es­pe­cially the el­derly who strug­gle with trans­port,’’ he said.

‘‘It helps con­nect those out here with town or with Blenheim and the shop­ping that’s avail­able and the hos­pi­tal and all that sort of stuff.’’

Coun­cil fi­nance of­fi­cer David Craig said the coun­cil was in the process of draft­ing a sur­vey to get a sense of peo­ple’s travel needs.

‘‘We are want­ing to un­der­stand where peo­ple are want­ing to travel to and from, the fre­quency of that travel, whether it be daily, whether there are favoured days of the week and whether it’s early in the morn­ing, dur­ing the day or late evening.’’

He said the Blenheim-Ren­wick route and the Burleigh-Boule­vard Park on Tay­lor route were pos­si­bil­i­ties if there was a strong de­mand for them.

‘‘They were just some of the op­tions that were there and ob­vi­ously the in­for­ma­tion that we get from the sur­vey would need to re­in­force that be­fore we would look at pro­vid­ing such ser­vices and then any­thing we did fol­low­ing that would likely be sub­ject to some form of trial pe­riod,’’ Craig said.

The coun­cil was also con­sid­er­ing ex­pand­ing the bus ser­vice to other parts of the re­gion which were of­ten ‘‘iso­lated’’, in­clud­ing Have­lock, Pic­ton and Sed­don.

‘‘We are aware that there’s not a lot of pub­lic trans­port within Marl­bor­ough and a lot of that is be­cause of our low pop­u­la­tion and these types of ser­vices typ­i­cally aren’t com­mer­cially vi­able ... We just want to see what the need is,’’ he said.

Blenheim’s daily bus ser­vice which trav­elled be­tween Red­wood­town-Wither­lea and Spring­lands-Rivers­dale was set to get an ex­tra hour of run­ning time. The ser­vice, which op­er­ated from 9am-noon and 1-3pm daily was get­ting a lunchtime run, mak­ing it a 9am-3pm ser­vice as of March 1.

Craig said the daily ser­vice was to be­come less ‘‘con­fus­ing’’ as peo­ple of­ten for­got or were not aware that it did not run for an hour at lunchtime.

‘‘I’ve got a bus stop near my prop­erty and I quite of­ten go home for lunch and there’s peo­ple sit­ting in the shel­ter wait­ing for the bus to ar­rive and I’ve had to go over to them and say ‘do you re­alise the bus doesn’t ac­tu­ally run within that lunch hour?’ So it will cer­tainly take away from that con­fu­sion,’’ he said.

Any ex­tra ser­vices would be payed for by ratepay­ers, Craig said.

‘‘With any ex­panded ser­vice comes a cost and whether ratepay­ers are pre­pared to pay that ad­di­tional cost is an is­sue that we also need to de­lib­er­ate [on].’’

‘‘NZTA funds 51 per cent of the net cost and coun­cil, or ratepay­ers, fund the other 49 per cent. So if we put a ser­vice on, sub­ject to get­ting NZTA’s ap­proval, then the cost of op­er­at­ing that would again be shared be­tween NZTA and coun­cil,’’ he said.

Craig said the bus ser­vices would charge some peo­ple a fare, like they did now.

Sur­vey forms will be avail­able on the coun­cil’s web­site, or at coun­cil re­cep­tion, the Blenheim and Pic­ton Li­braries and bus driv­ers in March.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Fly­ing the flag for the Czech Re­pub­lic, Ab­he­jali Bernar­dova ticks Cook Strait off her swim­ming ‘to-do’ list.

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Coun­cil fi­nance of­fi­cer David Craig says he of­ten sees peo­ple stand­ing at the bus stop at lunchtime, when there is no bus.

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