Ambitious and wide-ranging changes are proposed for
Dunedin bus services. Reporter David Loughrey outlines key
elements of the draft Otago regional public transport plan.
Kings and Queens High School pupils board school buses in
Bayview Rd, yesterday afternoon. Photo by Rebecca Fox.
Dunedin's bus service is set for sweeping changes that may
lead to faster and more direct routes away from smaller
The draft Otago regional public transport plan includes a
central-city hub for a system set to cost more than $100
million in the next decade.
The changes will mean in Mosgiel, for instance, 15 different
routes will be merged into just one.
Across the city, a seven-zone fare structure could be cut to
The plan has been developed this year by the Otago Regional
Council, along with the Dunedin City Council, the New Zealand
Transport Agency, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and
The draft plan covers the Otago area, but the bulk of the
changes are in Dunedin.
That includes a new ''rapid network'' alongside the more
The rapid network will cover the central city, Dunedin and
Wakari hospitals, the tertiary precinct, stadium and Botanic
The plan is expected to go out for public consultation this
It has attracted mostly positive reactions from companies and
a bus users support group.
But the regional council says the changes will mean some
people will have to walk further to their nearest bus stop.
And it plans to cut its eight school bus routes, though the
new system is expected to be able to deliver pupils to their
The change does not affect school bus routes run by other
The regional council has managed the city's public transport
system since 1989, but is involved in discussions with the
city council to hand over control.
Under government legislation, the regional council was
required to put the plan together, so it could tender for new
or replacement services.
Several contracts with bus companies expire in June next year
and in June 2016.
The plan noted ''many shortcomings'' of the Dunedin network,
which was ''extremely complex'' and slow.
One aspect of the draft plan was a central hub for all
services. That would reduce the number of buses in the
central city at any one time.
Mr Collings said the council was ''exploring options'' for a
site, a discussion that would be held with the city council.
There were options, but he said it was too early to identify
The hub could include buildings, or be as simple as a bus
stop area on the street.
The idea was to allow people to transfer from bus to bus.
Another aspect of the plan was using main roads more and
residential streets less.
Mosgiel patrons would have to use a link service to get to
the one route that would service the township.
Council support services manager Gerard Collings said people
would have to decide on the effect of the proposed changes.
He said the purpose of the plan was to reduce the reliance on
public subsidies for the system.
It was well known more direct services were used more often.
''It may mean some people have to walk a little bit
further,'' he said.
But there would be more certainty about where the bus would
go and travel times would be ''a lot better''.
Bus Go Dunedin chairman Peter Dowden said his bus users
support group agreed routes should usually follow main roads
rather than back streets.
''However, there will be some hardship, and Bus Go Dunedin
will be vociferous in supporting any people who would end up
isolated far from bus routes by this suggested change.''
Ritchies Otago regional manager Malcolm Budd said the changes
would mean the same operator would run a route days, nights
and weekends, rather than the old system where a route could
be shared by two operators.
That had meant enticements like family passes could not be
introduced, as they may not be honoured by another company.
The company was ''in full support'' of the plan.
The plan will go before the ORC tomorrow, with a
recommendation it be endorsed for public consultation.
Dunedin bus patronage
Two service providers: Go Bus (formerly Dunedin
Passenger Transport and Citibus) and Ritchies Transport.