Revamped bus service a boost for Marton folk

Rangitikei residents unhappy with their public transport services have been given an early Christmas present with an improved bus service now connecting them to nearby cities.

A recent Massey University community transport survey highlighted the limited public transport options available in Marton - and the survey was backed up by community criticism about the current service not suiting residents' needs.

Horizons Regional Council has announced it is fixing this with a revamped Rangitikei bus service set to start tomorrow.

The first trip will be tomorrow from Taihape to Whanganui, stopping in Hunterville, Marton and Turakina before returning the same day.

Then on December 21, the bus will travel from Taihape to Palmerston North, stopping in Marton, Sanson, Bulls and Feilding before returning the same day.

Horizons transport manager Anne Redgrave said the service resulted from Rangitikei residents showing strong support during the Long Term Plan public submissions.

Rangitikei transport issues steering group member Michelle Bisset said the service would address transport disadvantages for rural communities. "So many people made submissions, so we're thrilled a service is being provided.

"Now people just need to get behind it and use it."

According to Horizons statistics, the current Marton bus service to Palmerston North, which runs Monday to Friday between 7.05am and 5.10pm, carried 5174 passengers during the 2011-12 financial year, meaning about 24 passengers were boarding each day.

A similar service ran in 2010, but the key to ensuring its continuation was for people to use the services, Ms Redgrave said.

In Horowhenua, bus users have doubled since 2010, and there may be a need for a second or larger bus to cope with demand.

Commuters from Levin are taking to the bus in droves, giving the regional council the unusual headache of how to cope with the numbers.

The Horizons passenger transport committee is looking into options for the Horowhenua service.

The council is also running free buses during the Christmas period, hoping to take some of the stress out of the silly season.

The free festive buses will be operating in Palmerston North, Feilding and Whanganui on the Saturdays leading up to Christmas.

Manawatu Standard