No bus for retirement village residents

A Mairehau retirement village’s 11-month battle with Environment Canterbury to save their bus service has been lost.

ECan says it has “run out of ideas” for a compromise, which would satisfy residents and staff at Diana Isaac Retirement Village after their Orbiter service was cut last month.

The Pegasus Post reported last month ECan had raised the idea of trialling a service to transport retirement village residents to bus stops and locations they can no longer access.

The vehicle would have been run by a trust and volunteers from the village.

Village resident Graham Tate had supported the idea but said residents had decided this would have simply been too much work at their stage in life.

“An email survey of about 20 per cent of the independent residents within this village made it clear that there is very little support for the proposed ECan Village Vehicle Community Trust model.” Mr Tate said.

“Personally, I think the Village Community Vehicle Trust concept could well work in a village where residents’ ages were younger than here,” Mr Tate said.

Ryman Healthcare spokesman David King said the age of residents had ultimately been behind its decision to not support the vehicle trust idea.

“We think that creating a trust, which required our residents to drive, roster, and take full responsibility for their own scheduled transport service, placed a large and unfair burden on them.”

Both Mr Tate and Ryman Healthcare were now again calling ECan to re-route the No 44 bus service to take it along Philpotts Rd and closer to the village. However, ECan senior manager of public transport Stewart Gibbon said Philpotts Rd could only be accessed from one end. Ryman Healthcare had offered to provide a portion of its land for a bus turnaround area to make the detour smooth.

Mr Gibbon said this would require the construction of “a physical piece of infrastructure to be built to enable a bus to do a U-turn at the end of the street.”

This would cost $100,000 and this, combined with the time it would take to construct, meant ECan did not see this as a good option, Mr Gibbon said.

He said re-routing the No 44 also did not align with ECan’s regional public transport plan.

“We’ve run out of ideas. We’ve offered alternatives and we haven’t been able to implement those alternatives, so there’s really not much to do.”

Mr Tate said he and other residents were hugely upset with ECan’s stance on this.

“Our feeling is that ECan is unwilling to offer any accessible bus service to the village. Residents believe this is an unacceptable position. It seems incredible that probably the largest concentration of residents in the locality and perhaps the most in need of public transport should have that access taken away.”

From March, Ryman Healthcare will be operating a village taxi and car share scheme to make sure residents can still get around. One will be used as a bookable taxi, which will be available to get residents to and from appointments using a Ryman-employed driver who has a passenger licence. The second will be available for residents who can drive themselves.