Move to get councils talking about transport

AN attempt will be made to get the Otago Regional Council and Dunedin City Council to work together on public transport.

The two councils have often clashed on the subject and the city council has argued it should take over public bus operations from the regional council — an argument the regional council has rejected.

However, most city councillors voted this week to request a meeting with their counterparts at the regional council to discuss working together on public transport issues, ideas and improvements.

They directed chief executive Sandy Graham to arrange the meeting as early in 2022 as possible.

City councillor and mayoralty candidate Jules Radich led the move and elected members voted 9-4 in favour.

Mayor Aaron Hawkins led the arguments against such an approach, but he was part of the bloc that lost the vote.

Cr Radich said he wanted to take the discussion away from control of bus services and move it towards influence.

The goal was to make public transport more convenient. .

Cr Carmen Houlahan agreed the councils should work together to get the best possible transport system for Dunedin.

Mr Hawkins said building the infrastructure necessary for public transport and running it should not be spread between two councils.

He was wary of the city council gaining only the "illusion of influence" from talking to the regional council.

Cr Chris Staynes doubted discussions would lead anywhere, but he supported the city council’s move.

City councillors who were against were David Benson-Pope, Marie Laufiso and Mike Lord.

ORC chairman Andrew Noone said the approach from the city council was constructive.

"We will work with them and listen to their ideas, as it’s vital we collaborate as much as possible to ensure the public transport service in Dunedin is as good as it can possibly be," Mr Noone said.

"I and fellow councillors look forward to meeting with them in the new year."

 - grant.miller@odt.co.nz

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