Looking for more from Leeston
by Mike Isle
Trial commuter bus services for Darfield and Leeston began in late January. Environment Canterbury, which is monitoring the trial, said uptake of the service in Darfield has been positive, but the usage of the Leeston service is lower.
Environment Canterbury senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said he was pleased with the numbers on the Darfield service so far.
“We saw strong growth on the Darfield service,” he said.
“There is still room for growth on this service, and we’d like to see that happen. The numbers show that the morning trip from Darfield is particularly well used, but patronage on the afternoon service isn’t as high.
We will be running a survey with passengers in the coming weeks to help us determine if we need to make changes to the time of the afternoon service. As well as seeing continued growth, we’re also looking to see that the level of usage is sustained over the autumn and winter months to demonstrate long-term sustainability of the service.”
Usage of the Leeston service has not been as high, and Gibbon says that unless there is better uptake, the passenger numbers aren’t high enough to justify continuing the service long-term. “We saw strong support from the Leeston community for a commuter service during the survey process late last year. We encourage the community to make good use of the route now so that it can be extended.”
When Environment Canterbury surveyed the Darfield and Leeston communities on the proposed new service, 200 submissions were received for the Leeston survey, with 96% of respondents claiming that they, or someone in their household, would use the service.
More than 50% of respondents to both surveys said they would use the services at least twice a week.
Usage of the Leeston service will continue to be closely monitored during the coming weeks.