DCC takes first step to explore running bus service

The Dunedin bus hub. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The Dunedin bus hub. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A push for the Dunedin City Council to take control of the city's public bus system has cleared its first hurdle.

At Tuesday's full council meeting, councillors voted 9-4 in favour of supporting a motion put forward by Cr Aaron Hawkins to support, in principle, the transfer of public transport governance from the Otago Regional Council.

The council would also ask for the issue to be included in the regional council's forthcoming review of its regional public transport plan.

Cr Hawkins said the issue was a perennial one, and it made sense for the different aspects of public transport to come under the umbrella of one council.

The council could submit and have input on the system as it stood, but ''ultimately we will always be a minority voice in that decision-making'', he said.

The law as it stands requires regional councils to govern public transport, but the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2), expected to pass by the end of this month, would allow that to be transferred by mutual agreement.

But several councillors raised concerns about the lack of information available regarding the impacts of taking over the service, including the cost.

Cr Lee Vandervis said there was no information about what the repercussions of the transfer would be.

''What we do know for certain is that the ORC has the experience, the expertise, and the contracting history for running buses. All of which we have none of.''

Cr Andrew Whiley said he could support some parts of the idea, but questioned the need to pass the motion before the end of the council term.

''I believe this is something for the new council to tackle.''

Cr Hawkins said the detail would come later - this week's motion was about getting the ball rolling.

''The intention of this isn't some nefarious scheme to slide this in at the last meeting, the intention of this is that the legislation is imminent and will enable us to have this conversation, and the review of the regional public transport plan, which is a natural point to have that conversation, is also pending.''

Crs Vandervis, Doug Hall, Whiley and Mike Lord voted against the motion.

Dunedin is not the only council pushing to take control of public transport.

The move has been widely supported at a Local Government New Zealand level, and Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult has raised the idea several times during his re-election campaign.



Should have been left for the incoming Council. No staff report with Cr Hawkins’ private Motion so no idea of the cost to the DCC. Claiming agreement is ‘in principle’ is an old ‘thin edge of the wedge’ political trick. Cr Lord quite clear in saying he couldn’t vote for something with no indication whatsoever of financial implications. IMO those Councillors voting in favour acting as if unaware of their legal obligation to make decisions on the basis of good information including capacity for financial prudence. But, no, most just rushed in.