Councils waiting on NZTA for city bus loop funding

Police responded to reports of an assault at the bus hub in Great King St on Saturday afternoon....
Photo: ODT files
Clarity about the likelihood of a proposed loop bus receiving funding to run around Dunedin’s central business district could emerge in the coming weeks.

Questions about the status of the project were raised this week by Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich and city councillor David Benson-Pope.

Dunedin City Council chief executive Sandy Graham said at an infrastructure services committee meeting she understood there had been some challenges for the Otago Regional Council concerning a change in focus for NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi since the general election.

The city council has indicated some enthusiasm for the venture, but the regional council is responsible for public transport and it is expected the project would need some funding from the transport agency.

The project was last year added to Dunedin’s transport funding wish list and Mr Radich said at the time an inner-city loop bus, or "tram", would offer a strong alternative to transport by car and "give people confidence in public transport again".

The Otago Daily Times asked the regional council if the chances of provision of a loop bus had diminished.

Regional council transport manager Lorraine Cheyne said Minister of Transport Simeon Brown had advised his focus was on reducing travel times and creating a more productive and resilient transport network that drove economic growth.

The NZTA’s decisions on funding transport projects, including public transport services, were made within the context of a government policy statement on land transport, she said.

The new government’s policy statement was expected to be released for consultation later this month or early March.

The chances of funding support from the transport agency for a loop bus service would become clearer then, Ms Cheyne said.

There had been sustained growth in public transport patronage and it would be timely to revisit a 2020 feasibility study on a central city bus loop, Ms Cheyne said.

It was also a matter about which the public could have its say.

A draft regional land transport plan was out for public consultation until March 15.