Concern over 'gold-plated' transport plan

Jane Turnbull
Jane Turnbull
A ''gold-plated'' strategy for public transport in Dunedin is being proposed without consideration of the cost on ratepayers and bus users, Otago regional councillor Michael Deaker says.

The comments came as the regional council's policy committee recently considered the strategic case for improving Dunedin's public transport network developed by regional and city council staff, the New Zealand Transport Agency and bus operators.

Regional council transport manager Jane Turnbull said in a report the case set out key problems worth addressing, the benefits from addressing those problems and how public transport fits in within the overall city transport network.

It was the first step towards preparing the 2015-21 regional land transport plan and the transport component of the regional council's long-term plan, she said.

Following acceptance of the strategic case, a programme business case assessing costs, risks, time frame and benefits of the main changes would be done, followed by a more detailed business case specifying a preferred option.

If that option was endorsed by the council and the transport agency, the regional council would be required to implement it, she said.

As part of the programme business case, the regional council, with the city council and bus operators, would review bus routes (as they were doing now), frequencies, fares and interchanges with a view to designing an ideal network, establishing a better interchange in the central city and planning how to introduce improvements in the fare system.

Cr Deaker called for the recommendation to ''endorse'' the strategy be changed to ''note and discuss'', as it was too strong a word.

The council needed to workshop the topic and assess its ''gold-plated'' implications before it could ''endorse'' anything, he said.

Cr David Shepherd agreed the case needed to be a topic of a council workshop.

Cr Bryan Scott said he was also concerned about going through the process when the prospect of a change in management of public transport was still in the air.

However, Cr Sam Neill said it was business as usual and the transport planning system reinforced the case for the city council to run public transport.

Regional council policy and resource planning director Fraser McRae said, as Dr Turnbull had indicated, the strategy was only the first step in the process and cost implications would be considered as the council worked through the process required of it by the transport agency.

The policy committee finally decided to ''receive'' the strategic case and forward it to the transport agency, instead of endorsing it.

-rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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