More buses for cruise season

ORC says more buses to Port Chalmers will help ease pressure. Photo: ODT files
ORC says more buses to Port Chalmers will help ease pressure. Photo: ODT files
Nearly 300 additional bus trips to and from Port Chalmers have been added to ease pressure on the community over the cruise ship season starting next month.

Otago Regional Council transport manager Lorraine Cheyne made the announcement yesterday.

"We’ve heard the call from residents and the West Harbour Community Board that more public buses are needed, and we’re pleased to be able to provide these additional trips to the Port Chalmers route at peak times on the busier cruise ship days," Ms Cheyne said.

“This will help to ease pressure on the bus service, but it’s likely there will still be overcrowding on the buses at times, especially on very busy days when more than 5000 cruise ship passengers disembark at Port Chalmers."

Ms Cheyne said although cruise passengers were encouraged to use the private buses offered by their ships, many chose to take the public bus service.

Orbus buses would leave the first stop with some capacity for passengers at later stops, she said.

West Harbour Community Board chairwoman Ange McErlane said these measures would help address issues for residents.

Last week, Port Otago sustainability and cruise manager Carolyn Bennett said 129 ships were booked for the season, up at least 20 ships on last season.

Ms Bennett also said there was now an arrangement between Dunedin Railways and KiwiRail to bring a train service back to Port Chalmers to collect passengers from some cruise ships.

Ms Cheyne said the central city drop off and pick up point for cruise ship passengers on the Port Chalmers bus (route 14) would move to outside New World Centre City in Cumberland St.

“We’ll keep the community updated through alerts, but we are also asking people to plan ahead and consider taking the bus at a different time to usual on the busier cruise ship days," she said.

“We’ll continue working closely with Port Otago and the West Harbour Community Board throughout the cruise ship season."

The season begins on November 6 and finishes on April 7.

There was also an increase in expedition ships venturing to the subantarctic from Dunedin, from 14 to 20, while there would be 28 "double days’’ at Port Chalmers during the season.