Central city bus loop could become permanent

Ready for a ride on the Otago Museum’s school holiday bus route are Kyla (7) and Toby (6) Rae, of Fairfield. About 50 people used the free inner-city loop bus on its first day of service yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Ready for a ride on the Otago Museum’s school holiday bus route are Kyla (7) and Toby (6) Rae, of Fairfield. About 50 people used the free inner-city loop bus on its first day of service yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A free inner-city bus service running through Dunedin's central city during the school holidays could be the forerunner to a more permanent service.

The Otago Museum is running and paying for a free inner-city bus loop service during the school holidays as a solution to the reduction in car parks near the attraction.

Provided by the Dunedin Heritage Bus Society, the loop service travels from the Dunedin Botanic Garden past the Otago and Toitu Early Settlers museums through the Octagon and back past the museum, finishing at the botanic garden.

Museum director Ian Griffin said the bus service was a response to a reduction in parking because of the construction of the one-way cycle paths and the increase in complaints from visitors about the lack of parking.

''Obviously we're not the council and we can't create new parking spaces so we had a think and talked to the heritage bus people and came up with this free hop-on, hop-off bus service.''

If it proved to be successful, Dr Griffin said he could envisage other attractions in the city and possibly the Dunedin City Council also supporting the service.

While Dr Griffin would not give the exact cost of the service, it was several hundred dollars a day.

Last year the city council asked the Otago Regional Council to investigate the feasibility and cost of operating an inner-city bus loop.

A report by Ian Wallis Associate costed the services at about $155,000 for one-way or $310,000 for both a clockwise and anti-clockwise route, based on a $1 fare.

City councillor David Benson-Pope said based on talks he had had with other councillors he thought there was general support for a similar service.

''I'm not saying there is a majority of support, but it seems to me from discussions I've had with other elected officials the city council would support, strongly support, the development of a loop of that kind.''

With the development of the new bus hub and the planned $60 million upgrade of George St, now was the right time to be investigating the possibility.

Comments

Excellent move on the part of two non-local government agencies. If this spurs the ORC and DCC into action, so much the better.