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Extra buses may be added in Port Chalmers as cruise ship passengers fill the services, leaving locals in the lurch.
On both Sunday and Monday the Otago Regional Council wrote messages on social media notifying the public its buses were full because of cruise ships in the city.
Locals including school children further down the route were unable to catch buses, comments on the post reported.
West Harbour Community Board chairwoman Francisca Griffin said she understood the frustration of locals.
"It would be great if the [ORC] put on extra buses. It's happened before, why can't it happen again?"
Ship passengers could not be forced to use charter buses, she said.
Ship passengers have the option of a $20 return chartered bus into the city.
However, the local bus is $12 return when paying cash.
Dunedin i-Site visitor centre manager Louise van de Vlierd said the local buses were not actively promoted, so passengers had to learn about them from word of mouth.
"They are intelligent, educated people. We'd always be suggesting they would get on the shuttle, but they're free to do what they want."
Many New Zealanders were on the ships and would be in the habit of catching local buses, she said.
Council public transport team leader Julian Phillips said it was working with its provider to allocate an additional bus on the Port Chalmers run during peak times on days when ships were in town to alleviate pressure on the route.
The council was unable to give further details yesterday about when this would begin and how frequent the buses would be.
"The public transport
buses are equally accessible to all passengers. Cruise ship passengers would only be turned away in the same circumstances as any other passengers, when the service is at capacity," Mr Phillips said.