Despite few fare-paying customers, the Whanganui to Palmerston North commuter bus will continue on beyond its two-year trial.

Horizons Regional Council runs the service and its passenger transport committee has voted to continue the service after the trial period ends in February.

Whanganui-based councillor Nicola Patrick, who sits on the committee, has backed the decision but wants to look at ways to increase the service's use.

The trial of the once a day, Monday to Friday service began in 2017 with a $30,000 contribution from Ucol to allow its students and staff to travel for free.

Advertisement

But with just $11,330 collected in fares ($10 each) from other passengers it is relying heavily on council and the NZ Transport Agency, which roughly split the $71,442 shortfall.

A council report said Ucol made up 82.6 per cent of the patronage while "fare paying customers remain low".

The service cost $114,772 in 2017/18 and had 8328 passengers with Horizons ratepayers forking out $4.20 per passenger and the taxpayers $4.38.

Patrick said the committee discussed whether changes such as decreased fares would increase passenger numbers and was keen to hear public feedback.

"If there's a demand, let's see what we can do to meet it," Patrick said.

"For me I'm really keen for Whanganui people to tell us what they want from their bus services."

Patrick "absolutely" supported the service despite it needing a top-up.

"We're fortunate in that our public transport services don't have to break even per se. It's something we're keen to invest in."

She was keen to encourage more people to take the bus.

"If you're car pooling with a small engine vehicle then cool, keep doing that. But if you're not and it's available, why not try the bus, give it a go."

Taking the bus freed up time otherwise spent driving to do other things, Patrick said.

"I think it's a habit and a mindset thing."

Horizons will be putting the Whanganui to Palmerston North commuter service out to tender.