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More people are getting on buses in Dunedin than did before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest passenger numbers continue to show a rebound in passenger numbers in the city, but revenue from fares has lagged and patronage is well down in Queenstown, where a lack of international visitors is felt more keenly.

Otago regional councillors discussed a public transport report at a committee meeting last week and they will have a workshop this month to help produce a direction from here.

Watching developments with some interest are the mayors of Dunedin and Queenstown Lakes.

Significantly higher passenger numbers in Dunedin in June and July, compared with the corresponding months in 2019, were encouraging, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said.

There was plenty of room to grow and flat $2 fares had been popular, he said. People also wanted routes and timetables that were efficient and regular.

‘‘Once again, the St Clair-Normanby service is by far the most popular,’’ Mr Hawkins said.

‘‘It’s no coincidence that it’s also one of the most frequent.’’

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the migrant worker population had reduced dramatically in the district and lack of international visitors because of the pandemic was having the expected effect on bus passenger numbers.

Patronage in Queenstown Lakes was down 36% in June this year against a pre-pandemic June 2019.

July’s comparison was slightly better, with a 22% decline.

Mr Boult said price made a big difference to patronage in Queenstown Lakes when international visitors were in town.

‘‘I regard the $2 fare as the most significant thing that’s ever happened to public transport in this part of the world.’’

In Dunedin, the most recent two months of data, for June and July 2021, show an upward trend of 15% and 18% patronage growth, when compared with 2018-19 figures.

The last full financial year not affected by Covid-19 restrictions was 2018-19.

For the 2020-21 financial year, the Dunedin network carried 2,706,470 passengers, which was an increase on the result of 2,199,254 in 2019-20 and 2,548,330 in 2018-19.

The Queenstown network carried 889,063 passengers in 2020-21, 1,249,503 in 2019-20 and 1,468,057 in 2018-19.


Great news? So this equates to approx 3.1 passengers per trip via the Hub. What is the variable cost of an average trip? (income $6 per trip, vs the pay/wage of the bus driver which not even covered, let alone diesel, depreciation, maintenance, HQ costs etc). The DCC/ORC is not forth-coming in how much these buses really costs the ratepayer.

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