Buses not suited, students say

Buses line up at the hub in Dunedin. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Buses line up at the hub in Dunedin. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Many university staff and students in Dunedin find public transport "too slow and too unreliable".

That was one of the issues raised during hearings for the Otago Regional Council’s draft regional public transport plan yesterday.

About 16 groups and individuals had their say on the plan which will set the focus for public transport in the region for the next 10 years.

Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) political representative Mhairi Mackenzie Everitt said students were repeatedly pointing out issues in regards to the frequency of buses, inadequate routes for students’ needs, a lack of late-night buses and lack of student concession fares.

The association disagreed with a section of the council’s draft plan which said a key challenge for the council was "a perception that transport is costly, inconvenient and hard to use, compared to other transport modes".

"These perceptions are, in fact, reality," Ms Everitt said.

Of 683 students surveyed by the association, 515 said the bus system was not suited for student use.

Bus timetables did not take into account that students generally needed to arrive at the campus within 10 minutes to the hour for their classes.

Many students had to arrive far too early, or late, to classes, she said.

The association has asked for student concession fares since the Bee Card ticketing system was introduced last year, and yesterday, Ms Everitt made that request once again.

"Considering one of the council’s priorities is to deliver fares that are affordable ... OUSA is surprised that there is no discussion of student concession fares specifically stated in this plan," she said.

Some of those points were echoed by the University of Otago.

Strategic resource planner Kevin Wood said the main feedback from staff and students on public transport was that it was "too slow and too unreliable".

Due to a lack of buses going directly to campus, a kilometre gap existed between the bus hub on Great King St and the university.

It made travelling by bus less desirable and a solution was needed to close that gap, he said.

Hearings will continue in Dunedin today.



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Oh no, arriving early to learn, the shock and horror.
Here's an idea then....walk, bike, or get a taxi if that extra 10 minutes sleep is so desperately required.

Big buses are great when you have a large number of people who need to get from A to B but otherwise they are generally inconvenient and impractical or both. Worse still is their huge environmental impact and not just the carbon they emit. They degrade air quality, pollute waterways and create noise pollution. On top of this they require huge infrastructure in place such as bus stops, hubs, dedicated lanes, maintenance yards, storage depots, offices etc, etc.
The council spends about $8m a year I believe subsidising the buses but are still years behind what most modern cities expect from public transport so instead of trying to play catch-up they should instead look to the future and get innovative. A small fleet of electric mini buses run in a similar way to Uber would be a good start, maybe partnering with a supermarket or courier service so than also deliver goods. GPS live tracking through mobile apps, door to door service, offering multiple services and convenience without the environmental cost is the way forward. Our city will look very different in 20 years time let's start transitioning our public transport system to fit that future and beyond.

A- buses polluting waterways is a long now to draw, I could say your breathing pollutes my air with co2
B- we have live bus tracking online as it is, ie, gps is already in the buses so you can see how far away they are in real-time.
Like most "journalists" these days, you need to do your research 👍

Ha! Yes I admit the polluting waterways is probably no worse than any other vehicle that uses oil and tyres but if you do your research you will find that tyre pollution from vehicles is a huge problem for waterways every time it rains. While you are at it check out the latest research on the health effects of breathing in polluted air, particularly from diesel engines. As for the GPS on the buses, while this is nothing new it only highlights how behind the times we are here in Otago because it has only just gone live, same with the bee card thing. The thing is buses are just not working, they are not popular and even if we are forced out of our cars, for many they will remain impractical. So instead of just shooting down anybody who make a suggestion on how to fix a problem why don't you come up with some suggestions! Unless of course you can't see any problems?

‘Microtransit, or “Uber for public transit,” as some advocates call it, is a new name for an old idea: “dial-a-ride,” or demand-responsive transit. ‘ (Quoting from link below.) Why it doesn’t work, except for special, low volume cases such as people with disabilities, is that the number of passengers a driver can get to per hour is far more limited than the number of passengers who can get themselves to a departure point for a fixed route ride-share - which is what a public bus service is. If you use a bus, you will have to walk some distance and consume some of your own time synchronising with the timetable. This is not a defect of a public transport bus system- it’s integral to the way it works- efficiently, as fixed route ride-share. New technology can’t change this, as it amounts to a matter of user behaviour.
See https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/10/bus-best-public-t...

Thank-you for your reply and link to article. The pure dial a ride or Uber copy is not quite what I had in mind with my suggestions. Like I said, large busses are great at times. If a route is popular and well used then they should continue. The article highlights mainly the cost problems of a pure dial a ride service, which is why I suggested partnerships be used so vehicles can be used for deliveries as well. A more flexible work force too, not the 60 grand a year that Atlanta bus drivers are on! I have many ideas on how a smaller less polluting, more flexible service could be integrated into the current system, A kind of hybrid! The council will soon be forced into buying emission free vehicles and so while I do not claim to have all the answers if indeed any, I do think it is worth throwing a few ideas out there in the hope that money will be spent on future proofing the public transport system rather than just trying to play catch-up with the rest of the modern world.

"A small fleet of electric mini buses" still need "huge infrastructure in place such as bus stops, hubs, dedicated lanes, maintenance yards, storage depots, offices etc, etc" not to mention places to dump the tyres and batteries etc etc when they come to the end of their useful life.

"A small fleet of electric mini buses" would still require "huge infrastructure in place such as bus stops, hubs, dedicated lanes, maintenance yards, storage depots, offices etc, etc" as well as places to dump tyres, batteries etc etc when they reach the end of their useful life.

Urban mobility is a really, really hard problem. Quoting from the link below ( which I think may be leading edge): ‘The problem may be that most engineers are taught traditional methods based on predicting what is to be controlled, and they try to improve on those methods. But for complex systems, prediction is almost hopeless. The moment you achieve optimality, the problem changes. The solution is obsolete already.
What we have shown is that with self-organization, you can have a completely different approach, which you could summarize as shifting from prediction to adaptation. We have made simulations for regulating public transportation systems like trains, metros, buses and so on using self-organization. It’s much more effective than most control mechanisms that try to predict. https://www.quantamagazine.org/complexity-scientist-beats-traffic-jams-t...

I've found the buses are generally on time if not running a little early.. and the system is way easier to understand since they did away with all the zones. I think it'd be great if they extended the free transfer window and had a daily cap, maybe for 3 fares? similar to the model that runs in Christchurch. My other critique is the journey planner they have needs to allow for a selection of time at 15 minute intervals not just 30. Other than that I have no complaints and think buses are an important part of making the city run.

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