Wed, Apr 17, 2024 12:07 PM

Library-goers prompt plans for Saturday Picton-Blenheim bus


Maia Hart

The council in June last year made a weekday return service between Blenheim and Picton permanent following a successful trial.

Those buses ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A lot of the Picton passengers used the bus to visit Blenheim’s new library, which opened in May last year, and some had asked about getting a Saturday service too, said Richard Coningham, the council’s assets and services manager.

The $20 million building, called Te Kahu o Waipuna, was also home to the Marlborough Art Gallery. A new stop meant the bus was able to stop right outside the building.

Deputy mayor David Croad questioned how the council would measure the success of the trial. Supplied/LDR

Library staff said Saturday was their busiest day, Richard told an assets and services meeting on Tuesday.

Picton had a new library, Waitohi Whare Matauranga, built in March 2018, which cost $6m.

The Saturday trial period would run for 12 months, with the start date yet to be confirmed.

Richard said the Saturday timetable would be the same as the weekday buses.

The weekday bus departed Waikawa Bay at 9am and 1pm, and Seymour St in Blenheim at 10.10am and 2pm, with multiple stops along the way. It cost $4 per adult, and $2 per child.

The Blenheim library and art gallery - Te Kahu o Waipuna - officially opened last year. Photo: Supplied/Stuff

The report said the Saturday service could be funded from existing budgets, estimated to cost $27,560 per year, with NZ Transport Agency/Waka Kotahi expected to cover half of that.

NZTA covered 51% of public transport costs in Marlborough, although that amount could change.

Jonathan Rosene, acting assets and services chairperson, thought having more people on buses would help with road safety.

“It’s been mentioned in this room before, the second most dangerous road we have on the South Island is between Picton and Blenheim,” he said.

“This is a positive as far as I can see.”

Deputy mayor David Croad asked what success would look like in 12 months when the trial was reviewed.

Richard said an analysis would be done similar to what the council had done in the past.

This would include looking at the number of people who used the service, and therefore the average cost per person, Richard said.

The weekday Picton bus service has exceeded user targets. Photo: Supplied/LDR

Wairau-Awatere ward councillor Scott Adams thought it was important to communicate the Saturday service would be a trial.

The Picton weekday service became permanent in June last year after the cost of the service was found to be similar to that of two permanent Blenheim routes.

Although, at the same time, a Renwick to Blenheim service was scrapped due to low passenger numbers.

A report that went to the committee at the time said the trial for the weekday Picton service, which started in August 2019, aimed to have a minimum of 192 passengers a month.

The last financial year exceeded that, at an average of 257 passengers per month.

It meant passenger numbers had been “steadily increasing” since Covid lockdown ended, which led to a decrease in the cost per passenger from $6.77 in April 2021 to $5.20 in January this year.

The Saturday service was subject to full council approval on May 16.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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