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Councillors have their say on Ecan's bus proposals

Zion Dayal
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Christchurch Bus

Environment Canterbury wants to discontinue six Christchurch bus routes due to a $4 million dollar shortfall.

ECan says the routes are no longer feasible due to the end of post-quake funding. The council outlined a number of options for recovering the shortfall, all of which include discontinuing the six routes. 

The ECan 2018-2028 long-term plan outlines the routes that are subject to low patronage and don't have a positive financial outcome. 

The routes affected are: 107 Styx Mill, 145 Westmorland, 108 Casebrook, 150 The Palms, 135 Burwood Hospital and 535 Eastgate.

Ecan says an increase in fare cost of about 2.5%, and cancelling the six underperforming routes which would save $2.7 million.

A second option is to reduce the Total Mobility Subsidy to $30 but increase public transport rates by 3.64% and not increase fares. 

Option three would be to increase bus fares by 5% in the first year and 2.5% thereafter, in addtion to axing the six routes and reducing the Total Mobility subsidy. 

For residents in the Harewood area, over a third of whom have children, the closure of the bus routes could potentially be dangerous.

"They aren’t able to get to school because from Gardiners Rd to Sawyers Arms Rd there is no footpath, there is no bike path, so you are expecting children to either walk right next to the white line of the road or in long grass. It is not a level of service we can accept in this city, so they have to bus or get driven to school because you can't expect your child to walk on that road," Harewood Councillor Aaron Keown said.  

The Styx Mill line suffers from an underwhelming number of patrons but Cr Keown argues that if the bus connected to other bus services rather than only stopping at Northlands Mall it would be better utilised.

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This is the road school children will have to walk down if the Styx Mill bus line gets cut Google Maps

For residents in the Burwood and New Brighton area, the cancelation of the 135 Burwood Hospital line would limit the access of people to and from the new Queen Elizabeth 2 Park which opens in late 2018.

With continued investments into New Brighton's playground and saltwater pools, councilor Glenn Livingstone says it is a short-sighted approach to get rid of the route when in fact it will provide a service to the community. 

"If you look at what is proposed for this route, in my view it's short sited given the imminent opening of Queen Elizabeth 2 [park] which is along bus route number 135, so many people will be able to get off at Beach Road and walk over to the new aquatic centre, [as well as] many of the staff as well some of their patients from the Burwood hospital," Livingstone said. 

Also with considerable investments in New Brighton's playground and saltwater pools, plus Queen Elizabeth Park and Burwood hospital, keeping this line would be doing the community a service.

Environment Canterbury is encouraging Cantabrians to file submissions on the long-term plan by March 26.