Alternative bus routes to be considered

Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner (left), Cr Gretchen Robertson and council corporate services director and chief financial officer Nick Donnelly listen to a submission about the Otago Peninsula bus routes during the public forum sectio
Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner (left), Cr Gretchen Robertson and council corporate services director and chief financial officer Nick Donnelly listen to a submission about the Otago Peninsula bus routes during the public forum section of yesterday's council meeting in Dunedin. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The ''perseverance'' of Otago Peninsula bus advocates has allowed them to gain ground as the Otago Regional Council agrees to consider altered routes to accommodate school children.

About 15 parents and supporters cheered as a 960-signature petition urging changes to bus routes and timetables was presented at a regional council meeting yesterday.

Paul Pope
Paul Pope
The council agreed to assess the alternative options presented, and would discuss the topic again at its committee meetings in a month.

This is a turnaround from a March meeting at which the council decided not to consider route and timetable tweaks based on the community's concerns about the safety of school children.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope and concerned parent Jason Graham spoke to the petition at the meeting yesterday.

They requested one peninsula bus heading into town on weekdays start the journey 10 minutes earlier at 7.47am and that a bus be added at 3.08pm on those days in the
opposite direction.

The added bus would put the schedule in line with the ''rest of Dunedin'' which had buses at least every half an hour at peak times, Mr Graham said.

They also requested two options for route diversions for those two daily buses.

The first was the group's original proposal to divert away from Portsmouth Dr through Musselburgh and drop Tahuna Normal Intermediate children away from a busy road, and also to King Edward St in South Dunedin to get closer to King's and Queen's High Schools.

The second was a ''compromise'' which did not divert as close to the high schools.

Mr Graham said they had spoken about the issue for months but were unfortunately ''no further ahead''.

A survey of 118 school children living along the bus route at the end of term 1, compiled by the route-change advocates, showed only a handful were now using the bus to Tahuna Intermediate, he said.

If the routes were changed there would be a further 60 passengers on each bus to and from the schools, he said.

It would also reduce the number of cars along Portobello Rd which were making special trips to drive children to school, Mr Graham said.

Cr Bryan Scott thanked the peninsula community for its ''perseverance''.

''We are avoiding letters to the editor, and talking face to face which is great.''

He questioned whether the compromised option would lead to King's and Queen's High Schools coming back requesting bus diversions.

Mr Pope said high school children could manage the longer walk to school.

''It's not ideal but they can do it.

''What parents of Tahuna kids have said right from the start is that it [current bus routes] doesn't work for those children.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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