Otago Polytechnic student Ken Ha is a regular bus user who
supports an Otago Regional Council decision to make
permanent a student bus discount trial. Photo by Gerard
University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students have
heralded a recent decision to continue a bus discount
initiative they say is a small saving that makes a big
The trial was approved by the Otago Regional Council despite
no comparable figures showing more students had used the
service during the trial.
Instead, ORC support services manager Gerard Collings said
the council was ''putting some faith in the students'' to
take advantage of the discount.
The trial of a 25% discount for all Dunedin tertiary students
began in February, for those using a GoCard and student ID.
It became permanent when the council approved its annual plan
late last month.
Student associations last week received confirmation their
submissions to the annual plan advocating for the discount to
be made permanent were successful.
Otago Polytechnic Students' Association president Rebecca
Swindells said the discount saved students who used buses
regularly about $10 to $15 a week.
''This is a significant amount when you're living on less
than $170 a week.''
''Students who use buses were spending almost 20% of their
income on just 10 rides a week.
''While not as high as discounts in other regions it, has
helped decrease this barrier to using buses, and students are
rapt. We've had a lot of positive feedback,'' Ms Swindells
Otago University Students' Association president Ruby
Sycamore-Smith said the move was ''awesome news'', especially
for students who lived at home in Dunedin and those who lived
further away from the university.
Polytechnic information technology student Ken Ha said to
some people, a 25% discount might not make much difference.
But where lunch might consist of a $3 bowl of rice, the small
saving added up and over a week made a difference.
Mr Ha, an international student from Vietnam, takes the bus
to the city from Brockville, said the discount was important
to New Zealand and foreign students alike.
Mr Collings said in terms of adult travel on the bus network,
there had not been any significant lift in the numbers using
''We haven't been able to gauge whether we're in a decline
mode, and the students have offset that, or whether it's been
a transfer from one form of travel to another, and students
making the most of getting a discount.''
He said students made up 20% of adult bus users.
The ORC would get a better understanding of any increase in
student numbers next year.
He said in deciding to continue the trial, the council was
''putting some faith in the students that they'll migrate to
public transport if the incentive's there''.
''All the concessions will be up for review through next
year's annual plan process.''