Regional council chairman Stephen Woodhead says Dunedin
ratepayers should be "pragmatic and realistic" in their
expectations of Dunedin's transport system. Photo by Peter
The first step in a possible change of public transport
management in Dunedin has been taken.
The Otago Regional Council yesterday agreed to offer the
planning and operation of Dunedin's public bus system to the
Dunedin City Council.
It is now up to the city council to decide if it wants to
take on the $10 million bus system.
However, even if it accepts the offer, the terms and
conditions of the transfer must be agreed by the two parties.
Regional council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the two
councils would have to work ''closely and collaboratively''
together if the city council decided to take on the bus
At stake was about $3 million in significant projects the
regional council had already planned, including replacing the
integrated ticket system, a ''real time'' timetable and bus
monitoring and other infrastructure changes considered
necessary for the ongoing development of the transport
Agreement of both parties would also be needed on the
location of a ''bus hub'', he said.
''We'll need to work with the city to agree on these things.
But we are in a positive frame of mind to endeavour to allow
the transfer to take place.''
He warned the city council that operating public transport in
a small city was not easy, as it involved many players, from
the public and ratepayers to the New Zealand Transport Agency
and bus operators.
He warned the community to be ''pragmatic and realistic''
about its expectations of Dunedin's transport system.
Cr Gretchen Robertson cautioned that before any handover
there would have to be an assurance the public would be
better served by the change.
While regional councillors supported the offer, they wanted
to ensure the public did not think the reason behind it was
because the system was broken.
Cr Bryan Scott said the council was not embarrassed by the
bus system but he believed the city council was a better fit
for the transport system.
Cr Sam Neill said the regional council was justifiably proud
of the improvements it had made since taking over the buses
from the city council as a result of the 1989 local
When he stood for the council, Dunedin's public transport
system had been the ''laughing stock'' of the town but the
regional council had steadily improved the system, Cr Michael
''How the DCC would go we don't know. That troubles me a bit.
I'd hate to think it would take a backward step of any
sort,'' he said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the city council would now have
to formally consider the offer and no timeline for doing so
had yet been sought.
If it did agree to, there would have to be a public
consultation process and an agreed transitional arrangement.
He personally favoured the city council's taking on the bus
system because of the synergies with other council activities
such as parking and cycleways, which would enable it to look
''holistically'' at the whole system.
Transport lobby group Bus Go told the regional council in the
policy committee public forum while it thought the regional
council had done a very good job with the system, to do it
more successfully involved much more than just running buses.
Spokeswoman Lynley Hood said bus users felt marginalised by
the city council's integrated transport planning as it did
not cover bus services.