Bus use 'reality check'

Bryan Scott
Bryan Scott
Analysis showing a decrease of about 1% in use of Dunedin's public bus system is a ''reality check'', Otago regional councillor Bryan Scott says.

An update of passenger services presented to a recent council committee meeting showed that while overall patronage was down, Saturday services were attracting users.

In a report to the committee, council manager support services Gerard Collings said Saturday services showed a 3% increase last year. The regional council had increased Saturday services in January last year. At Cr Sam Neill's request, Mr Collings worked out the percentage increase translated to about 2500-3000 extra trips.

Cr Trevor Kempton said getting people to use buses was going to continue to be ''a battle''.

''Maybe when petrol's $3 a [litre], it might change.''

Cr Scott said patronage figures had looked promising during the year but the final figures presented a different picture.

Cr David Shepherd said the figures showed drops in usage during the university holidays.

This year, the council was working with the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic student associations to increase student use of the bus system. A student discount was being trialled and 6000 Go Cards would be distributed to first-year tertiary students.

From February 17 to April 30, students would receive a 15% discount on top of the 10% Go Card subsidy available to everybody.

''Students will be required to present a current student ID to drivers, in order to obtain the trial concession.''

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

Unsatisfactory ORC-led bus services

I'm totally against ORC offering a substantial discount to students when other members of the public receive such poor bus services, whether to do with routes, frequency, lack of easy transfers and associated ticketing, little or no explicit route information on bus stop timetables and programmable illuminated front of bus sign systems, regretable lack of adherence to timetables by the bus companies. It all points to very poor management and a fickle disregard for providing clear communication for the customer base.

The online and printed timetables in particular are poorly designed and mostly illegible. The buses will never fill unless they are convenient, on time, and take more than one pram or wheelchair per trip... And why don't we have affordable city-wide shuttles operating, not the oversize buses which are really only a solution to Dunedin people's needs in peak hours. ORC will put the blame on government legislation and funding models but maybe it's time to hit the entrepreneurial button for a city of this geography and social demographic. Not everyone wants to run a car in preference to good public transport.

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