Hopes for bus contracts

Iain Lees-Galloway.
Iain Lees-Galloway.
The Otago Regional Council is a step closer to retaining new public bus service contracts, following Labour Party support for an amendment to proposed legislation.

Labour transport spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway yesterday got caucus support for his amendment to the Land Transport Management Bill.

He will table the amendment in Parliament as an attempt to see contracts awarded by the council deemed legal under the proposed legislation.

As it stands, the legislation will render three new ORC bus contracts illegal.

Mr Lees-Galloway said at least seven regional councils throughout the country could be similarly affected by the Bill.

''This is a sensible approach that allows a period of transition to the new public transport operating model which is supported by councils and operators,'' he said.

Peter Bodeker.
Peter Bodeker.
ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said the council's new contracts remained in place, pending the outcome in Parliament.

If the contracts were deemed illegal, they would have to be renegotiated.

ORC staff met senior representatives of the New Zealand Transport Agency last month to continue discussions about the bus contracts, Mr Bodeker said.

The meeting was ''valuable'', although the NZTA stuck by its decision not to provide subsidies - worth up to $1.5 million over three years - for the new contracts.

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