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Villager bus service to go

Environment Waikato’s Passenger Transport Subcommittee has recommended ending the Villager bus service which took pensioners to city sights and shopping areas.

Too few passengers are making use of the service, this week’s Committee meeting was told.

The service – which stopped directly on front of pensioner housing villages and travelled to popular areas such as the Hamilton Gardens – was introduced in April last year as a trial. Surveys were carried out before the service was launched to identify specific needs of potential users and the routes, stops and timetable designed from the findings.

The aim was to reduce the number of elderly people using the Total Mobility scheme. The bus operated on Tuesdays and Fridays, with three services a day and three separate circuits originally using a $4 fare. The service cost $40,326 a year to operate.

When the service was reviewed in October several changes were made, including reducing the fare to $3.50, opening the service to people living along the routes and distributing pamphlets. However numbers have continued to drop from nine per trip to two people per trip.

Despite new initiatives the service had not grown and staff recommended cancelling it at the end of the contract on March 31. Money could then be used for a more viable service.

Land Transport manager Bevan Clement said no increase was noticed when the service was opened up to the public, and the funding could be put into late night and other bus services. It would be more economic to contract a taxi to operate a similar service.

It appeared people often had their own cars or relied on friends and liked having the freedom.

User representative Mr P Allen said the service needed to be better advertised, with timetables advertised in newspapers. It was also launched just before winter when elderly people would not use a bus.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.

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