Bus fare affordability 'fantasy' - councillor

Cr Aaron Hawkins
Cr Aaron Hawkins
The idea Dunedin buses are affordable is an ''absolute fantasy'', Dunedin city councillor Aaron Hawkins says.

His comments come in reaction to remarks by Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead earlier this week.

Mr Woodhead said the cost of most of Dunedin's buses was already low and was not a deterrent to passengers using them, citing an 8% to 11% growth in passengers month on month.

In February last year the regional council confirmed it would examine how a ''Queenstown model'' of public transport would work in Dunedin.

Regional council corporate services director Nick Donnelly said this week fares would not be reviewed until at least later this year, partly because of other public transport priorities.

That is despite council chief executive Sarah Gardner saying in February last year staff would create a model of how a ''Queenstown'' bus system would work in Dunedin by mid-2018.

Cr Hawkins said it was disappointing the city council was never updated on the progress of a fare review, despite requesting information and having joint groups with the regional council.

''Most frustrating, though, is that when the public transport plan was last reviewed, we were told that lowering fares was off the table, and could be dealt with separately afterwards.

''Now we're told that has to wait until the plan gets reviewed again.''

This put the council back where it was five years ago, he said.

''As to the comments about how they're affordable enough for everyone already, that's an absolute fantasy.''



ORC before you say that fares are affordable, let me do the math for you - absolutely free before you paid many thousands to independant consultants.

Let's say I live in Brighton. Adult fare from Brighton to Green Island and from Green Island to City Centre is $1.92 + $2.53 = $4.45 one way, it takes on average 45 minutes in peak hour (i.e. when it's really needed) and covers a distance of rougly 15 km. It total to $8.90, 30km and hour and a half each day, or $44.50, 150 km and 7 and a half hours per working week (without weekends).

Let's say I bought a rusty used car for $2000 which takes 10L of petrol per 100km and 15-20 minutes to get to my work one way. Given petrol price $2.20 per litre it totals to $2.20/L * 10L / 100km * 150km = $33 for petrol and 2 hours of commute, so even this car saves me 4-5 hours of commute a week plus $11.50 which covers some car ownership costs + I have convenient mode of transportation for weekends.

Bottomline: it makes no sense to prefer bus over car if you live in Brighton area - even if you drive alone, let alone if you carpool. Bus fares do make more sense in closer areas e.g. Green Island because it is cheaper and takes less time.

Why can't Dunedin do like most other cities in the world that actually want to attract people to their bus networks, and offer some sort of season ticket allowing unlimited travel during a specified period? Daily / Weekly / Monthly / Annual ??

Our fare structure is idiotic and short sighted.

The Regional Council are so out of touch on the realities of public transport and the public. Shortly we will see the launch of the hugely expensive and delayed 'Bus Hub' and the 'new improved bus' service with all its electronic bells and whistles. The launch will be all about them, not us, because what we wanted was an affordable, decent bus service for all.

I live in Broad Bay on the peninsular and it is far cheaper to drive for myself let alone if I want to take the family to town. It is outrageous when the bus is more expensive than your own car. Don't give the argument that parking and rego and and etc and much better rubbish. The bus should be way less than taking a private car full stop.