Councils in talks on buses

The Dunedin City Council is considering a possible takeover of the Dunedin public transport network from the Otago Regional Council, which could pave the way for an overhaul of the service.

The news was confirmed by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday, as results of the council's Your City, Our Future survey sent to households across the city showed strong public support for such a move.

Mr Cull said the survey results and other feedback meant the community had "obviously signalled" itsdesire for a better service, beginning with a transfer of responsibility for the network, and "we're considering it".

Preliminary discussions with ORC chairman Stephen Wood- head about a possible takeover had been under way for several months, Mr Cull said.

No decisions had yet been made and public consultation would be essential to consider any transfer and the costs that could follow.

That meant any switch, if it proceeded, was at least one year away, but "we want to go into this with our eyes open".

"It's a big thing.

"It's very important to a lot of people ... some of the options involved could be quite expensive.

"I think what both councils would agree on is if we're going to change anything, it has to be demonstrably to the advantage of the community.

"The community's got to get a real benefit from switching it over."

Mr Woodhead said the regional and city councils were in regular contact about passenger transport issues, but the status quo would remain until "we get a formal request".

"We haven't had one of those."

However, the idea of transferring responsibility would be "open for discussion", he said.

"The discussion would be based around ... what serves the people of Dunedin the best."

The news came as a report detailing results of the Your City, Our Future survey were released yesterday.

The survey's 4340 responses showed strong support for an enhanced public transport system, including a takeover of the network by the city council, as well as the return of passenger rail services, trams and cable cars.

This followed a flood of submissions to annual plan hearings earlier this year, many calling for the council to take over the city's public transport network and consider initiatives to improve the service and boost patronage.

The survey asked respondents 84 questions designed to help point the council in the right direction for future planning.

Results included a top 20 list of spending priorities over the next decade, and a top 20 list of activities the council should consider.

Public transport scored highly on both, coming in third on the list of top 20 priorities with 439 responses, only slightly behind "employment and jobs" and "reduce rates and spending", which tied for first place with 445 responses each.

The second list of other considerations prompted a bigger response on transport, with 749 people ranking an improved public system as the number one priority. The next highest was a rail service, with 314 responses.

Respondents urged the city council to work with the ORC to improve public transport, and wanted cheaper fares and improved bus timetables, routes and shelters, as well as bus sizes.

While overall responses heavily favoured those initiatives, the highest mean scores - calculated from responses on a five-point scale - came in other areas.

Work to retain the city's hospital and medical research capabilities earned the highest mean score (4.56 out of 5), followed by encouraging employment opportunities (4.25), protecting Dunedin's education reputation (4.22) and promoting Dunedin (4.16).

Ringfenced rate for better public transport?

Improving Dunedin public tranport is one area where I wouldn't mind my rates going up - as long as the result is value for money.

DCC should certainly be able to do better than ORC  re timetable information, public transport promotion and genuinely responding to customer feedback to improve services.

ORC transferring things to DCC

The public should be careful to examine the transferrance of rules /regulations and governance from ORC to DCC.

It doesn't necessarily mean that DCC will do a better job it means many times that there are loopholes in the transferrance system of laws set up that the receiver of the transferrance in fact does not have to do anything.

Also in the state of debt the DCC seem to be in how will the DCC maintain the service?  Or will the ORC also transfer their budgets for transport over to the DCC as well?

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