Taihape bus service under scrutiny

Last updated 12:00 03/01/2014

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The future of a public bus service from Taihape to Palmerston North will be reviewed next month.

The service runs once a month, alongside one from the Rangitikei town to Whanganui, and has come under regional council scrutiny Horizons transport manager Anne Redgrave said a contract to run the service had been let for three years with reviews after years one and two.

The first review was due and an item will be brought to February's Passenger Transport Committee to consider the service's future.

In November changes were made to the route and the day it ran in an effort to boost passenger numbers, but Mrs Redgrave said it was too soon to know what effect that had had. "Patronage normally fluctuates from month to month and dipped somewhat in November."

However, as there were only two services out of Taihape a month, "it may take a few months and further promotion for any noticeable change to be seen".

Mrs Redgrave said Horizons had not received any feedback since the changes were made in November.

When Horizons first raised concerns about passenger numbers in August there were worries in Taihape that losing the bus would leave some residents stranded.

Taihape Older and Bolder co-ordinator Betty Tierney said some people would have no means of getting out of town and she feared some residents would move away.

"We're quite isolated; short of hitchhiking, there are not a lot of options."

Between the start of the service in December 2012 and the end of June last year, there had been 191 trips on the Taihape service.

With a running cost during that period of $4355, that equated to a cost to council of $22.80 per trip.

That compared to a cost to the council of $7.85 per passenger for the Raetihi to Ohakune service and Marton to Palmerston North bus.

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- Manawatu Standard

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