Southbridge-Lincoln bus to be permanently parked

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
Low passenger numbers has seen the Southbridge to Lincoln public bus axed.

The long-term trial of the bus will finish on June 27.

From January to April an average of 32 people used the service each week, with the average falling to 14 people using it three or more times a week, including return trips.

The bus left Southbridge at 6.43am and stopped in Leeston, Doyleston, Irwell and Springston.

It ran two evening services, leaving Lincoln at 4.11pm and 6.08pm.

It mostly provided transport for workers and students to get to Lincoln or get on another bus to Christchurch.

Tina Bond.
Tina Bond.
Leeston resident Tina Bond said she was disappointed the bus service was being stopped.

Her son Caelan uses it to get to and from Lincoln High School.

She said they would be looking for other transport options now.

“We will just have to find someone to car pool with,” Bond said.

She said Caelan had noticed the low usage of the bus, but in recent weeks it had appeared to have picked up.

“In the last few weeks, it’s been so full you’re lucky to get a seat some days, but it’s a bit hit and miss.”

Bond said with Leeston growing, she was expecting to get more amenities rather than losing services.

In November, Environment Canterbury warned users the service was at risk of being cancelled due to its low numbers.

Stewart Gibbon.
Stewart Gibbon.
ECan public transport general manager Stewart Gibbon said usage has been low from the start.

“We’ve worked closely with the community from the start of the trial in 2019, to give it every opportunity for success, including amending the route structure, timetable and connecting it with direct services from Lincoln into Christchurch city,” he said.

“Over the trial, we never saw the demand we hoped for and required. Even with the reduced fares through the government 50 per cent fares initiative, and our $2 flat fare trial that followed, the service hasn’t shown sustainable patronage figures.

“Despite this, it never met its monthly targets of 800 passenger trips to make it a viable service.”

Selwyn Youth Council this month called on ECan to implement better public transport between the district’s towns.

Said youth council chair Mackenzie Wills: “The Selwyn Youth Council is feeling a mix of disappointment and frustration about the decision to pull the plug on the Metro route 87 trial.

“We believe that the trial was destined for challenges from the beginning. We believe that this is due to the limited offer of one option per day. It is our view that having a single fixed schedule does not accommodate the diverse needs of our entire community.”

The targeted public transport rate the Leeston, Southbridge and Doyleston communities pay for this service was not included in ECan’s 2024-2034 draft Long-Term Plan.