Bus timetable breach of plan, users say

Bus Go Dunedin co-presidents Alex King (left) and Peter Dowden, with Belleknowes bus user Liz...
Bus Go Dunedin co-presidents Alex King (left) and Peter Dowden, with Belleknowes bus user Liz Angelo yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A move to ''quite viciously slash'' the Belleknowes off-peak bus service breached the letter and spirit of the Otago Regional Public Transport Plan.

That comment was made yesterday by Dunedin bus users support group co-president Peter Dowden at an Otago Regional Council public forum.

Mr Dowden said the planned timetable change came after an overall history of gradual improvements in the city bus service by the ORC.

He believed this was the first time for some decades that a service had been cut to this extent, and was unaware of another case where the proposed change differed from the plan.

The 2014 public transport plan, developed after considerable public consultation, states that the ''initial weekday frequency'' for the new, restructured Belleknowes service will remain at half-hourly, and this is also the ''target weekday frequency'' for the future.

The transport plan will usher in major changes in Dunedin bus zones and routes, which take effect next Monday.

These aim to streamline the service, and offer overall benefits and savings on longer trips, using the Go Card.

People went to much trouble to make submissions on transport plans.

But if the agreed outcome as expressed in the plan was altered without further consultation, people would question the value of making submissions, he said.

The new No19 bus route connects Belleknowes and Waverley, from next Monday.

Belleknowes had long had a half-hourly off-peak service from 9am to 3pm on weekdays and Waverley had a history of hourly off-peak buses.

The new timetable showed that Belleknowes residents would have an hourly off-peak bus, and Mr Dowden asked for half-hourly buses to be retained.

He asked that regional councillors further consider the matter before the changes came into effect.

Belleknowes bus user Liz Angelo making submissions on the plan, asking for bus frequency to be maintained.

She was surprised by the service cut, which would adversely affect some older bus users.

ORC support services manager Gerard Collings denied there had been any ''slash'' in the service or that the plan was breached.

In fact, 282 bus services would be offered a week on the Belleknowes route, up from the present 270.

The bus service would also be much improved on weekday nights, Sundays, and public holidays.

The ORC ''always take community feedback seriously'', and many submissions, including from Belleknowes residents, were taken into account in developing the plan.

An average of 3.7 passengers used the Belleknowes daily off-peak bus service.

If increased patronage supported this, it was hoped to improve the 9am to 3pm off-peak frequency to half-hourly from July 2019, he said.



Maybe if ORC spent $31 million on a new premises it would facilitate better decision making?




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