Contract changes cost $145K; no rates impact

Extensions to public bus contracts due to changes in the Land Transport Act are costing the Otago Regional Council an extra $145,000.

The council had to vary its expiring contracts with bus company GoBus Transport for the Harbourside, city routes 1 and 3 and Palmerston route, due to the Act's requirement that the council not seek new tenders before its Regional Public Transport Plan is adopted.

The plan had just gone out for public consultation and was not due to be adopted until later this year.

Overall, the variations cost $290,000 plus GST, but the New Zealand Transport Agency paid half the cost.

Corporate services director Wayne Scott said the increase in costs for the council would not affect rates, as the council had already budgeted for the additional cost.

As well as the variations, the council had negotiated for timetable and route changes to the Corstorphine-St Clair Park services, and on bus-capacity issues for the Palmerston service and the student concession, a report to the corporate committee said.

However, during negotiations it was found not all the variations could be done on a cost-neutral basis.

GoBus also reaffirmed advice that the Harbourside contract was not sustainable at its present value, the report said.

As a result, the base Harbourside contract was increased $241,348 plus GST as well as $10,302 for the Peninsula service, including a new safe turning location for Portobello and service into Harwood, and an increase of $26,054 for the Waverley service, including a new weekday timetable.

City route 1 cost an extra $27,702 plus GST and included a new Saturday service to Ross Creek, while the adjustment to city route 3, Corstorphine-St Clair, resulted in a reduction in the contract of $17,661 as it reverted to pre-July 2013 routes and terminated at Centre City New World.

The contract for the Palmerston service increased $2500. A larger, more accessible vehicle would be used from about mid-August. All contracts would now run until August 2015.

A new timetable including the variations would be delivered to letterboxes before the changes on August 1 and changes to on-street timetables would be made two days before that.

The bus timetable was now an A5 booklet with increased type size and simplified maps, making it easier to follow and clearer to read.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the council had received feedback, particularly from the visually impaired, that the layout and colours made the previous timetable challenging to read and complex to understand.

''We responded to this by investigating the various suggestions with a designer and bringing back samples of possible improvements to meetings with stakeholder representatives,'' he said.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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