Residents do own bus survey

Enviro Ellesmere are conducting a survey on public transport needs in the area because it is...
Enviro Ellesmere are conducting a survey on public transport needs in the area because it is concerned the Leeston bus trial isn't getting accurate user numbers.
A community group is doing its own public transport survey because it fears usage numbers for the Leeston bus trial might be incorrect.

Enviro Ellesmere says an Environment Canterbury bus trial could be skewed because the time the trial is being conducted is at low patronage times.

The bus leaves Leeston each weekday for Christchurch at 7am, and returns from Christchurch at 4.37pm and averages 27 passengers a day.

Enviro Ellesmere member Jade Arnold said the group has had about 60 responses so far to its online survey asking people why they use the bus and how often they would ideally like to.

The survey is more about looking into the type of bus people would use and do need rather than what they are using currently, Mrs Arnold said.

“The way the ECan trial works is that they only count the number of people who actually use the service. It concerns me because that completely misses the needs of people who can’t catch that specific bus.

“I’m worried it makes it look as though the bus isn’t wanted or needed here as much as it really is,’’ Mrs Arnold said.

ECan manager of public transport strategy Edward Wright said the times were set after a survey showed that was when people would use the bus most.

“The funding available for the trial only allows for one service each way per day, and the survey results indicated that the greatest number of people wanted to travel at the times the trial bus is operating.”

The trial began in January this year and will run until October.

In July the service was also extended to include Southbridge.

Mr Wright said the extension increased the cost of the bus, so without any increase in patronage, the viability of the service is declining.

“For the service to become viable, usage needs to increase and we are considering ways that this might be possible.”

Once Enviro Ellesmere survey has ended the results will be averaged and graphed so it’s important to get a high number of responses, Mrs Arnold said.

“After that, I want to make it publicly available so anyone can see the results. I’ll also present the results to bus operators, the district council and ECan.”