Alternative bus option possible for retirement village residents

Residents of a Mairehau rest home may have won their battle with Environment Canterbury to get an alternative transport service.

Diana Isaac Retirement Village resident Graham Tate has met with ECan representatives to discuss what could replace
the bus service which no longer stops at the village on Philpotts Rd.

The meeting comes after a long fight by residents to get an alternative service.

At a meeting on January 17, ECan raised the idea of providing a service on a trial basis to transport retirement village residents to bus stops and locations that they can no longer access.

“We’re very happy to look at an option that I think could be better than the bus,” Mr Tate said.

“The welfare of the elderly is very much about them getting out and meeting other people and seeing other things.”

ECan senior manager of public transport Stewart Gibbon said the service would be similar to what is already offered to residents in rural areas,
where bus services are not accessible.

Mr Tate said the details of the service still need to be worked out.

“What I think would be ideal would be to run a regular route in a 4km radius with stops at places like the malls and at bus hubs and at St George’s, Burwood and Southern Cross hospitals,” Mr Tate said.

Mr Gibbon said ECan had not decided how big the vehicle would need to be, but Mr Tate said an eight-seater would be ideal. ECan would run the alternative service on a trial basis if the idea is given the green light.

“Discussions to date are exploring the idea of a trial period of up to six months to validate the feasibility of the idea in this specific urban context,” Mr Gibbon said.

If the service continued after the trial, a trust could be formed between ECan and elected representatives from the village to fund it. ECan and the New Zealand Transport Agency could provide an annual grant for the service, but the majority of the cost would need to be covered by the trust.

Mr Tate said the drivers
would be a mix of volunteers from the village and other community members who wished to help. ECan will now discuss the option with Ryman Healthcare, which owns Diana Isaac Retirement Village.