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Latest figures suggest Dunedin bus patronage has stabilised, and may even have grown slightly, after an earlier drop of about 4%.
A report tabled at an Otago Regional Council finance and corporate committee earlier this week stated patronage had risen 0.04% in the 12 months from April 1 last year to March 31 this year, compared with the 2015-16 period.
Otago regional councillor Trevor Kempton, who chairs the council’s Otago regional transport committee, said the latest outcome was "gratifying" and encouraging.
He remained optimistic about the future, but it would be six to 12 months before the outcome became clearer, after all the planned transport changes were in place.
It would then be "really interesting" to see the outcome of a considerable investment in making the bus service swifter and more flexible, to attract more patrons.
He acknowledged that extensive transport changes were still under way in the city, including finalising contracts for more direct bus routes, and the planned establishment of a central bus hub.
The latest figure showed there was clearly a "core of public transport passengers" who depended on buses and continued to use them.
The transport changes arose from an earlier comprehensive review and the council’s Regional Public Transport Plan 2014 which sought to attract more bus patrons by offering a faster, more direct service.
Council support services manager Gerard Collings said there were positive aspects in the latest figures, but it was still too early to determine the eventual outcome.
An earlier ORC annual report showed that city bus patronage had fallen more than 4% — by about 90,000 passenger trips to 2.2million trips — in the financial year ending on June 30 last year.