Bus system diabolical: new group

Dunedin's public bus system is diabolical and should be improved so more people use it, members of a new group say.

Bus Go Dunedin was formally established at a meeting last night, although members will not seek legal status until the need arises.

They discussed problems with the existing public bus system and elected office bearers.

Almost 20 people attended the meeting, at which part-time Passenger Transport Citibus driver Peter Dowden was elected chairman.

All supported public transport and wanted to see higher patronage in Dunedin, but said it would not happen until improvements were made.

Many at the meeting said bus fares were too high and a deterrent for those who would otherwise use public transport.

They said existing schedules did not adequately cater to many Dunedin residents, because buses only visited suburbs every 40 minutes or so and did not operate late enough into the night.

Some members said bus timetables were too small and the writing was illegible for the elderly and those with eyesight problems, who were most likely to need public transport.

Others were frustrated that bus drivers often stopped for 10 or 15 minutes during a single journey, and in some cases people had to change buses on straightforward single routes.

One member who had lived in other cities said Dunedin's public bus system was the worst he had seen and he could not understand why.

A University of Otago employee said he was working on two research projects about public transport and wondered whether the problems were a result of those in control of the network, or whether Dunedin's rates take was too small to fund a better service.

Grey Power Otago and Dunedin Ratepayers' Association representatives also attended the meeting.

The group resolved to raise issues with other community service organisations and eventually lobby the Otago Regional Council to make changes to its public bus system.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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