Community meeting sees collaboration and discussion around the future of trial bus service

Published 7/05/2021

Leeston and Southbridge residents recently met with Environment Canterbury Councillors Scott, Sunckell and Mackenzie, and staff, to discuss the future of the trial 87 Southbridge – City bus service.  

The trial service started in January 2019 and has continually been extended with modifications to scheduling and fares. Patronage levels are currently too low to sustain the service, which is at risk of discontinuing in June this year if a solution cannot be found.  

Community meeting held in Leeston

We were keen to meet with residents, which saw a community meeting attended by more than 50 residents, users and interested parties.   

“The meeting was successful in that everyone who attended was able to voice their thoughts and understand the challenging position we are in,” GM Public Transport Stewart Gibbon said.

“It’s tough deciding whether or not to continue a trial service that isn’t financially viable but provides public transport for the needs of many people, including youth.  

“It was great to see such constructive discussion,” he said.  

Suggested solutions

As in all public transport, funding includes targeted rates which Environment Canterbury must make a call about continuation prior to the Long-Term Plan being finalised for 1 July.  

With morning patronage being high, but afternoon patronage being too low, it was found that many parents travel to Lincoln to pick their children up after taking a connecting bus from the City to Lincoln. Also, the current special fare does not allow transfers to other buses – something the community shared they would find beneficial.  

It was strongly suggested to have trips from Lincoln to Southbridge to connect with the Lincoln buses which would then include city transfers as a preferred option.  

“We’ve taken this information back, and staff will be looking in how this option might work from a scheduling, financial and patronage point of view. Although we can’t promise anything, it’s great to have a suggestion to investigate,” Gibbon said.  

We also suggested an Annual Pass concept for the existing direct service as an option to ensure sufficient funding from fares which was very economic for bus users. 

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