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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.