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Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) political representative Francesca Dykes told councillors it was important to ensure services were accessible to people on a low income and with no car, and encourage people to use low-emission transport.
Ms Dykes said some changes to its plan were needed to ensure the council was working with the community, after the effects of Covid-19.
She asked the ORC to consider the introduction of free buses for students.
"There is a lot of interest in the buses right now, in particular in light of Covid-19 and how that is going to impact people’s willingness to use public transport."
The association believed free bus services for students could also provide relief to housing issues in Dunedin’s student areas.
"[It] would also enable students to live further away from the campus area, mitigating the burgeoning housing crisis in Dunedin North."
Ms Dykes said the OUSA had also spoken to the university and the Dunedin City Council about their suggestion, and wanted to be a part of the discussion, working with the ORC where possible.
"OUSA would be happy to provide a representative to sit on established committees in order to provide a student perspective on regional issues."
Cr Alexa Forbes, who is the chairwoman of the Otago Regional Transport Committee, told Ms Dykes to put meeting her on the OUSA agenda.
However, she noted the OUSA’s decision to also suggest a rates freeze, while asking for free buses.
Ms Dykes said while she acknowledged it was a "tricky balance", if the ORC had the ability to mitigate some of the hardship following the pandemic, it would be valuable for the community.
"OUSA believes this will aid the Dunedin student population by lowering costs either directly, through reducing rental increases, or indirectly, by reducing potential costs passed on to consumers by businesses."