ECan to meet with retirees over Orbiter route

PASSION: ECan have found an alternative to cutting bus routes.

A date has been set for a meeting between elderly Mairehau retirees, Ryman Healthcare staff and Environment Canterbury bosses over plans to re-route the Orbiter.

An ECan spokeswoman confirmed that chief executive Bill Bayfield, and chairman
Steve Lowndes, will visit Diana Isaac Retirement Village on May 11.

“In the meantime, ECan staff are working with Diana Isaac Retirement Village management and residents to seek their advice while developing options,” she said.

It comes as a group of 80 retirees presented ECan a petition, pleading it to reconsider route changes to the Orbiter that would see the closest bus stop move 900m away from the village.

“We’re very pleased. We’ve had a huge response from residents in the village, staff and others,” resident and petition organiser Graham Tate said.

The group protested at ECan over the proposal to stop the bus service that goes past their retirement home.

The Orbiter stop outside the village’s entrance on Philpotts Rd would move 900m away to Innes Rd.

“It’s a terrible thing to impose on elderly people,” Mr Tate said.

Mr Tate said before the meeting with Mr Lowndes and Mr Bayfield, the group would meeting with ECan staff to discuss options and investigate alternatives.

“There are a lot of options, we can see, that would keep the bus accessible,” he said.

But while Mr Tate said the group was “very pleased” with the prospect of a meeting.

“We won’t be counting our chickens before they hatch.”

The Orbiter currently runs along QE II Drive, right into Philpotts Rd and onto Innes Rd.

But the Northern Corridor work will restrict right hand turning in and out of Philpotts Rd.

ECan plans to change the route so the bus would use Cranford St then Innes Rd, skipping out the QE II Drive and Philpotts Rd section altogether.

Said ECan chairman Steve Lowndes: “The only viable option we have for the Orbiter is to re-route via Cranford St.”

But Mr Tate said the group was “optimistic” that ECan would reconsider.

“We’re just waiting to see something concrete and we’ll be maintaining representation. We’d certainly be out protesting again, but we’re hoping it won’t come down to that,” he said.

ECan plans to implement the changes later this year.

In a letter to ECan, Ryman Healthcare chief executive Gordon MacLeod said the village was home to more than 600 residents and 200 staff, and the Orbiter was a “crucial” form of transport.

St Bede’s College deputy rector Gerry Davidson wrote a letter of support for the petition. He urged ECan to look at alternate routes.

Mr Lowndes said ECan is still looking at other means of continuing the coverage and one option could include “one in five, or one in 10” Orbiter buses going via the village.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Will you be affected by the change to the Orbiter? Email your views to julia.evans@starmedia.kiwi

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