Auckland's elderly are rattling their Zimmer frames at Auckland Transport for "dumping" them on the roadside to receive medical treatment at Greenlane Clinical Centre.
The axing of a bus service into the clinical centre has angered residents at Selwyn Village in Pt Chevalier and in Mt Roskill at the other end of the cross-town route.
The furore is over AT's decision to no longer take patients into the clinical area, but drop them at a bus stop outside the gates of the hospital on one of the city's busiest roads.
I am fast finding the attitude to this issue is nothing less than abuse, to expect those unwell and in need, literally dumped on the main road
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
It follows concerns by students, parents and schools about the axing of school bus services as part of a rollout of new bus networks across the city.
AT is standing its ground, producing figures showing just 5 per cent of trips from Selwyn Village were to the clinical centre in April, May and June this year and saying most bus passengers now have a trip which is quicker by up to five minutes.
Selwyn Village resident Hugh Dyson said the elderly in various stages of disability, many of whom use walkers, are being "dumped" on Green Lane West where they have to cross the road and weave their way to the clinic.
He has written to Mayor Phil Goff, councillors and Seniors Advisory Panel chairwoman Janet Clews asking them if they are serious about the council's recent goal of joining the World Health Organisation's "Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities".
The 83-year-old said he relied on the buses to get to and from the Greenlane clinic several times a year, saying there are many, many more out there needing the "age-friendly" service.
"You have to have this unfortunate decision put into the trash bin where it belongs and reinstate the bus service into Greenlane clinical area," the letter said.
Selwyn Village resident Lesley Dunne says it will be a "hell of a walk" taking her 80-year-old husband, Peter Dunne, to the clinical centre by bus tomorrow. He has suffered heart attacks and strokes and can barely breathe, she said.
"I am fast finding the attitude to this issue is nothing less than abuse, to expect those unwell and in need, literally dumped on the main road," Dunne said in a letter to AT this month.
Selwyn Village independent residents' committee chairman Russell Warren said there was a lot of indignation and resentment at the loss of a service that dozens of residents rely on as the only realistic travel option.
Glen Innes resident Ailsa Martin-Buss said she and her husband, both of whom are 86, frail and use walking frames, now have to catch two buses and face a long walk to reach the clinical centre.
"Instead of going to that trouble we decided to get a taxi last week, costing us about $40 both ways, even with a mobility card," she said.
An AT spokesman said the intention was to make the new 650 bus service an attractive route between Pt Chevalier and Glen Innes via Western Springs, St Lukes, Balmoral, Epsom, Greenlane, Remuera, Meadowbank and St Johns.
By not venturing into the grounds of the Greenlane Clinical Centre, it avoided the need for buses to turn at a set of traffic lights, wait for an entry barrier to be lifted, drive around a carpark and repeat this to leave, he said.
For the more than 500 passengers a day who used the old service and did not get off at the clinical centre, the new trip is quicker by up to five minutes.
AT has calculated the bus stops on Green Lane West are 312m from the entrance to the clinic on arrival and 274m on departure - adding about 100m on to the walk each way.
People who cannot walk the extra distance could access a mobility scheme for half-price taxi fares, the council body said.
The AT spokesman said depending on where a person lives, the best option was to take a train to Britomart and use the 321 Hospitals bus that leaves from right outside the main entrance and go into the Green Lane Clinical Centre.
The bus service will be part of a review of the new central bus network in October, three months after it came into effect on July 8.
Clews said she understood where AT were coming from to make the new bus service more efficient but it was unfortunate timing when the council family - which includes AT - had just adopted an age-friendly goal.
She said it would take a lot of effort for the elderly to stagger from Green Lane West to the clinic and back.
"That's quite a long way for some people."
Goff is on holiday and unavailable for comment.