DCC votes to reduce bus fares

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
The Dunedin City Council is seeking to reduce bus fares around Dunedin, while at the same time exploring the possible return of commuter rail services.

At the pre-draft budget annual plan meeting yesterday, councillors voted to add a $600,000 allocation for bus subsidies to its pre-draft annual plan for 2020-21.

Exactly how that would be funded was yet to be determined, but councillors asked for a report, detailing options to resource it, by early next month.

They also asked staff to report back on the contribution of rail to alleviating transport demand.

Mayor Aaron Hawkins said transportation was a challenge the city faced.

He said a growing fleet of cars in the city and disruption caused by the Dunedin Hospital rebuild were reasons the council should look at a reduction in bus fares.

He said the Queenstown-Lakes District Council $2 ride initiative was a successful example of implementing lower bus fares.

The cost would equate to a 0.3% increase in rates for ratepayers.

Cr Carmen Houlahan questioned why the DCC was overseeing the reduction instead of the Otago Regional Council, which was responsible for the bus operation.

Mr Hawkins said community support in DCC annual plan submissions overwhelmingly agreed to the changes.

‘‘The appetite of the ORC doesn't match the ambition the city has,’’ Mr Hawkins said.

‘‘The challenges the city face are more immediate. This is something we can do in the interim.’’

He said the $600,000 suggested for bus fares was only for the next year and was not an ongoing commitment, and he would be surprised if the council used the full $600,000 to implement the system.

Councillors voted 10-3 to make the allocation and seek the report on funding options. Crs Houlahan, Lee Vandervis and Mike Lord voted against the move.

Cr Jim O’Malley then went further, asking for an analysis of the contribution rail could make to easing pressure on the city’s roading network.

The report would be brought back to next year’s long-term plan hearings.

Cr O’Malley said there were issues around freight transport to Port Otago, and commuter transport on State Highway1, but an analysis of what more rail could do to solve those issues was needed.

That should include considering a commuter rail link between Mosgiel and the central city, he said.

‘‘It's a novel idea. It hasn't been brought up for a long time.

‘‘I think it will have a massive impact.’’

Most councillors supported the motion, except Cr Vandervis, who agreed freight transport needed improvement but said the cost of rail was more exorbitant than cars and buses.



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Lets not forget the DCC has done it's very best to contribute to the congestion in this city, by adding cycle lanes, curb protrusions, speed bumps, courtesy crossings and speed restrictions.

You would have to be a complete idiot not to see the deliberate attempt to eliminate private motor vehicles from Dunedin roads, by this council. If they are not putting up the price of parking, they are reducing the number of parks available.

If you think the DCC are concerned about traffic woes over the impending Hospital rebuild, then you are sadly wrong! They gleefully welcome it as yet another opportunity to force the Dunedin ratepayer onto buses.

Good news then.

So you LIKE being forced to do something?!...
I'd prefer MY council to cater to multiple sections of it's travelling public. Pedestrians, vehicular and cyclist.
You may like to be told what to do, but most other people prefer to have options available. This council have decided that cars are no longer welcome on Dunedin roads and that can only spell disaster for the Dunedin economy.

Fantastic, frustrating seeing large empty buses slugging around Dunedin! ‘Half the size half the price’ please

Agree! Smaller, fuller, cheaper buses so we can leave the car at home, not have to drop the kids off and save some petrol money.

I don't think they make 3 seater buses the average amount of people on a DCC bus at any given time.

If it is such a good idea to have buses then let the users pay for it when they use the bus. It is not a 'public good' but a 'public burden' to have big empty buses chewing up our roads and spewing pollution. None of these green ideas make sense for a spread out city with sparse population distribution. They can not make it work in Sydney or Auckland, so why will it work here?

The Mosgiel commuter rail idea shows the level of 'lala land' thinking of the DCC crowd. How about cut our rates? not always increase them?

Look further afield- the rest of the world relies on public transport. Time to fill them up here. Think of all those free wifi comments you can do en route.

Great to hear this, I found it frustrating to find it was cheaper to drive into work, $15-20 a week compared to about $25-30.

The very best news would be if the buses were FREE.

27 new fulltime equivalent staff, at 4.7 mill.
Where do I sign?!
Or is the figure supplied (without any other stuff to go off) for a 3 year cycle?

'Exactly how that would be funded was yet to be determined'.....but you can make an educated guess and f course I can afford it and won't mind paying up to keep those empty buses wheels going round and round.

I'm happy to pay the current fares; I just wish the drivers would charge them correctly on my GO card. I catch a bus right on the border of two zones and often find out that I am charged for 3 zones instead of the correct 2 zones. The bus drivers have never been able to void the wrong fare and charge it correctly. The difference between the fares is almost $2.

That's something that should be corrected. Have you contacted the ORC about it?

Cheaper bus fares? Crs Houlahan, Lee Vandervis and Mike Lord voted against the move. Must remember that.

The rail commute between Mosgiel and city centre is not a new or novel idea. I know I've raised it a number of times at community board level, and numerous submission opportunities throughout the last few years. It is a low cost, no brainer.
Some facts:
-The city's railway station is practically in the city centre.
-Mosgiel has a station that is largely unused, next to a massive area of land that could easily be used for car parking
-There is one single freight train in the morning during commuter traffic
-The Taieri Gorge Rail cars sit empty and unused until after rush-hour is over
-Mosgiel has experienced the majority of Dunedin's growth in housing over the last 10 years.

There is an opportunity to open the unused railway tunnels (Caversham & Chain Hills) to cyclists between Mosgiel and city centre. Removing two 100+ metre hills would make it practically a flat commute to work and back, and the infrastructure is already there, just going to waste.
There is no doubt the new cycle-ways in town would be put to more use. Given this is the fastest growing part of Dunedin and has been for ten years, It is mad that this hasn't happened before now.

I am so glad Dunedin is finally catching up with the rest of the modern world to reduce car numbers on roads. Cant live a couple of decades in the dark ages forever!!

Reducing the fares means ratepayers will be footing the difference. As usual, we struggling ratepayers - including those who get to pay their rates via their rent - get bent over yet again by the DCC.

I can hardly wait.

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