Any transfer of Dunedin's bus system to the city council
would be up to three years away, but a decision about whether
it happens will be made ''as soon as possible''.
The apparently conflicting messages came late yesterday after
a long debate.
The council made it clear it would not take up an offer from
the Otago Regional Council to accept governance of the system
by July 1, 2013. Instead, councillors decided to discuss with
the ORC ''the DCC's preference to defer any final transfer
for up to three years''.
Mayor Dave Cull made sure the move towards governance would
not stall, when the infrastructure services committee backed
his motion that ''sufficient information to enable a decision
to proceed or not with a change in public transport
governance be brought to the council as soon as possible''.
In April, the ORC approached the DCC with an offer to
transfer control of the system from next year. In May, city
councillors voted 11-4 to support the transfer, in principle.
But a report to yesterday's meeting made clear the potential
impact of a draft regional public transport plan the ORC was
undertaking ''may be significant'', and recommended not
taking over the system until July 1, 2017.
The draft regional public transport plan, required under the
Land Transport Management Act, and necessary for government
funding, opened for public submissions this week.
It would include faster and more direct routes away from
smaller residential streets, and a central-city hub for a
system set to cost more than $100 million over the next
Acting chief executive Tony Avery told the meeting with the
ORC's draft plan being developed, staff could not give
councillors certainty on issues like fares, the effect on
rates, and the cost of the new bus hub. The report allowed
councillors to make a decision on the issue, understanding
Cr Richard Thomson said the draft plan meant the ''ground has
shifted quite considerably''. The council was ''financially
strapped'' and was considering taking on a major project with
aspects it did not understand.
Cr Andrew Noone said the council needed ''breathing space to
step back and absorb the draft plan''.
But Cr Jinty MacTavish said while she understood councillors'
caution, there were ''a whole range of good reasons'' why the
council had decided, in principle, to take over the system.
''Three years and an election before we make a decision would
be the worst outcome.''
Cr Neville Peat said the bus system the ORC was developing
under the draft plan would be ''a system we have not seen
The council could not take it on before it saw how it would
''It is probably two years before we can do anything like
The committee voted to discuss with the ORC its preference to
defer, though the two would continue to collaborate on the
Mr Cull responded with his motion to get information to make
a decision on the matter as soon as possible.
''All the reasons for transferring the bus service remain.''
He noted whichever council ran the service, the same Dunedin
ratepayers would pick up some of the cost.