Change to southern routes includes new buses

New buses to be bought for the Dunedin ''southern routes'' will be similar  to this air...
New buses to be bought for the Dunedin ''southern routes'' will be similar to this air-conditioned Man-Designline urban bus is operated by Go Bus Transport in Hamilton. Photo supplied.
In a ''very positive start'' to planned major Dunedin public transport improvements, at least six new 42-seat buses will be running on Dunedin's southern bus routes from July 1 next year.

Otago Regional Council members yesterday welcomed the letting of the first big route contract - which has been gained by the current provider, Go Bus Transport Ltd - under the ORC's new regional passenger transport plan.

The Man buses will be ''super-low'', will ''kneel'' for boarding passengers and will all be accessible to people with disabilities.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said aspects of the new arrangement were ''fantastic'' and this ''very positive start'' augured well for the development of the planned overall public transport improvements.

These include establishing a central bus hub in Dunedin by the middle of next year, and ''superstops'' in Green Island and elsewhere in the city.

The existing southern routes contract expires on June 30, and tenders for replacement service closed last month.

The contract provides for services for Mosgiel, Fairfield, Green Island, Brighton and Abbotsford.

This tender is the first in Dunedin assessed under the New Zealand Transport Authority's Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM).

This model assesses tenders mainly on price, but also has a 30% component for several other key factors, including aspects of a company's previous quality performance. Two tenders had been received.

Under the new arrangements, Abbotsford and Brighton passengers wishing to travel to Dunedin will make a free transfer at Green Island on to the Mosgiel-Dunedin service.

A report from ORC corporate services director Wayne Scott said two key benefits had emerged from the ''quality assessment process and the competitive nature of tenders'', including that Go Bus would be providing new buses for the service from July 1 next year.

Some extra services, including extra weekend services which had been scheduled to start in 2019, would now start on July 1 this year.

As well as the extra services brought forward from 2019, the new arrangements will provide 118 extra bus services per week for Abbotsford, Brighton, Mosgiel and Fairfield, including Sunday and holiday bus services for Abbotsford.

The new contract covers about 20% of the overall Dunedin public transport network, and some other contracts, yet to be let, will take effect on January 1 next year.

Passengers using the Go Bus-provided southern services from July 1 this year will be using more direct routes intended to reduce travel time.

Bigger ''superstop'' bus stops will also be available at Green Island at that stage, although other planned improvements, including real-time display of times for approaching buses, and ticket machine facilities will not be available there until later.

The new contract reflects the first step of an ambitious multimillion dollar ORC plan to speed up public transport, and make it more efficient and attractive for passengers.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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