One of the first major issues for the incoming Dunedin
City Council to consider could be assuming control of the
city's public transport network.
The proposal, yet to be presented to councillors, could
result in responsibility for running the network being
transferred from the Otago Regional Council (ORC) to the DCC.
Councillors would then need to decide whether to continue
existing funding levels or respond to public calls for an
improved service by pumping more money into the system.
Council chief executive Paul Orders confirmed a business-case
study being prepared by consultants was close to completion,
and would soon be discussed by DCC and ORC councillors.
The study compared Dunedin's network with others in New
Zealand and overseas, while looking for ways to improve the
city's public transport network within existing funding
levels, he said.
It also examined the costs, benefits and problems associated
with having the city council taking over responsibility for
the network and delivering an improved service, he said.
The ORC was reviewing its network in the search of
improvements, and both initiatives were likely to lead to a
''range of options'' to be considered and possibly
implemented in stages, Mr Orders said.
It was hoped the first stage of a firm proposal could be
considered as part of next year's DCC budget hearings.
Council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony
Avery said it was too soon to say what changes would be
considered, or what extra cash would be required.
A straight transfer of responsibility, with no improvements
to the service, would in theory be cost-neutral for Dunedin
ratepayers, he said.
However, the question for councillors would be what changes
were needed to improve the level of service.
''If there was some big changes, then yes, it would require
''It's difficult to know at the moment, and the options that
might come forward could be quite different from the current
Mr Orders said the two councils' executive management teams
were already engaged in ''very constructive'' discussions.
ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said: ''We are open to having
discussions about continuing the improvements to public
transport in Dunedin.''
Any change to overall responsibility for the network would
take ''quite some time'' and was likely to require a lead-in
time of at least a year, he predicted.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he expected a recommendation for
change after the report's completion.
''I think it would be fair to say that both councils
recognise that it makes as much sense, or more sense, for the
city council to be running the public transport system.
''It's just a matter of making sure that we all do it with
our eyes open and we know what outcomes we want from it.''
He welcomed the progress to date, saying the public had made
their views clear in submissions to past annual plan