'Stripping out services in South Dunedin'

Andrew Whiley.
Andrew Whiley.
Dunedin city councillor and mayoral hopeful Andrew Whiley has slammed the Otago Regional Council's proposed changes to bus routes, claiming they are another example of organisations "stripping out South Dunedin''. 

The proposed changes include a reduction in the number of direct services to Cargills Corner, with the Ocean Grove service now bypassing King Edward St altogether and instead travelling along Andersons Bay Rd to the one-way system north.

Mr Whiley has labelled the proposed changes "absolutely ridiculous'' and believes they are another attack on South Dunedin's residents and businesses.

"After what they have been through, let's do something positive for South Dunedin,'' he said.

"Everybody in Dunedin would like to see a better bus service. We would love to see less cars on the road.

"If you had a bus service that's really effective and working for the community there would be a stronger buy-in.

"Why aren't we having a service that works for the community?''

The changes would have a negative effect on businesses in South Dunedin and create an inconvenience for residents who would have to change services during their trips, he said.

"We are stripping out services in South Dunedin and when you look at the community in South Dunedin, they don't have high car ownership - it's a community that relies on a bus service.

"There's a lot of low-income families in these areas and we are taking a bus service away from them.''

He attacked the consultation process, which he considered was lacking and had led to "a lot of angst'' in the community and among bus users.

As a member of the Saddle Hill community board, he had heard concerns from residents about the lack of service from Green Island to South Dunedin.

These concerns were echoed by Saddle Hill community board member and Greater Green Island Community Network community worker Leanne Stenhouse.

She was disappointed the Otago Regional Council had not re-established the Green Island to South Dunedin route.

"It's disappointing because the indicators we were getting sounded like it was a positive outcome,'' she said.

"It certainly doesn't appear to be the case.''

Members of the network were meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue and decide on the next step.

Otago Regional Council support services manager Gerard Collings said the Ocean Grove service change was not damaging to the South Dunedin bus service.

There had been considerable consultation with the public and "quite a lot of community feedback'' about the proposed changes, which take effect on August 15, he said.

These were clearly signalled in 2014, and further alteration to routes had been made to take public feedback into account.

The bus changes aimed to make services more direct.

And although there were fewer "route variations'', in some instances it was planned to increase the frequency of bus services.

The free transfer system that would take effect in mid-August meant passengers could transfer to a different bus and continue their South Dunedin journey within the same zone without paying a second fare.

Mr Collings was "more than happy'' to meet Cr Whiley and discuss the planned bus changes and any concerns he had.

No decision had yet been made by the ORC over direct bus links between Green Island and South Dunedin.

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