Potential to market buses to city's youth

Michael Deaker
Michael Deaker
Dunedin buses and the city itself are incredibly safe, so parents do not need to cart their children everywhere, Otago regional councillor Michael Deaker says.

"It's crazy stuff," he said of a finding in a survey of young people's attitudes towards, and use of, public transport that 49% were driven everywhere by their parents.

Partly funded by the regional council, the survey was co-ordinated by the University of Otago and presented at this week's policy and resource planning committee meeting.

The online survey questioned nearly 1400 pupils, mainly aged 13-15, from 10 secondary schools.

Committee chairman Cr Deaker said he wondered if the statistic was the result of "baseless paranoia" by parents in a city as safe as Dunedin.

"We need to address that. In reality, bus travel is incredibly safe."

Cr Stephen Woodhead said it was concerning to see 20% of those who used buses did not know about the council's fare-payment GoCard.

"We should target year 9 students, as once they are locked into the habit and understand the GoCard, we have potential customers for a long time."

Cr Bryan Scott said it was good to see pupils enjoyed travelling on buses and 57% of them travelled with friends.

"We need to build on that, in how we promote and market buses."

However, a 57% perception that it was cheaper to travel by car remained, he said.

Policy and resource planning director Fraser McRae said it was not about stopping all travel by car, but reducing single-occupancy car travel.

"If you are taking your whole family to the movies, it will be cheaper, but jumping in the car on your own is not cheaper."

Cr Gretchen Robertson said while the council wanted to encourage bus travel, it was still important to encourage pupils to walk and ride.

Associate director strategic communications Peter Taylor said the council had not explicitly targeted secondary school pupils, so there was room to directly market bus services to that group.

The information from the survey would be analysed by regional council staff and also discussed with the joint passenger-transport working party.

• 61% of youth reported using public transport.

• 15% regularly used public transport to get to school. 62% used the bus at least once a week to travel to shops in the city centre. Their destination was usually the city centre (29%); school (22%); or shops elsewhere (16%).

• Only 24% of pupils used the bus once a week or more to travel to recreational facilities; 33% to travel to shops elsewhere.

• 32% often did not have enough money for a bus fare.

Source: ORC

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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