Mayors call for changes to bus services

Aaron Hawklins. Photo: supplied
Aaron Hawklins

The mayors of Dunedin and Queenstown Lakes have renewed a push for fundamental changes to public bus services.

The Otago Regional Council is responsible for public transport, but does not maintain the roading network and it has been argued this results in a system that can be unwieldy.

Environmental imperatives, such as fostering transport choice that reduces dependence on cars, might be better met with a new model, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult suggested in a joint letter to regional council chairman Andrew Noone.

"We need to have greater integration between management of the road network and public transport now," the mayors said.

"We do not believe that the current arrangement of split transport responsibilities can deliver the scale or speed of change that is needed.

"The time is right to consider how full integration would be best achieved."

Jim Boult
Jim Boult

Mr Hawkins and Mr Boult said they had not predetermined what a fully integrated solution might look like, "except that it needs to be different than what currently operates in both the Dunedin City Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council areas".

Cr Noone said the regional council would welcome discussions about expectations for services and how they might best be delivered.

"We look forward to engaging with both councils," he said.

Public transport has been a point of contention between the city and regional councils.

Mr Hawkins and Mr Boult said the regional council had delivered important service improvements to public transport in recent years.

That included introduction of the Bee Card and flat fares in Queenstown and Dunedin.

The mayors highlighted that "mode shift" — or growing the share of travel by public transport, walking and cycling — was central to some council projects.

"The Shaping Future Dunedin Transport and Wakatipu Way To Go programmes rely on significant mode shift, making the need for public transport to be fully integrated with the wider transport network increasingly urgent."

Mr Hawkins and Mr Boult said rapid action was needed to reduce transport emissions and public transport was key in realising the degree of mode shift needed.



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