Transport options dominate hearings

Trains, buses and cycling dominated submissions on the final day of public consultation on the Otago Regional Council's 10-year plan yesterday.

More than 22 people spoke to their draft long-term council community plan submissions at hearings held in Dunedin yesterday.

Their views were heard by a panel of councillors - Duncan Butcher (chairman), Gretchen Robertson, Bryan Scott, Stephen Woodhead, Louise Croot and Doug Brown.

Rudie Verhoef and Liz Abbott, of Seacliff, called for the Dunedin to Palmerston bus service to be re-routed through the communities of Seacliff and Warrington.

Those communities had changed in recent times and more young families and teenagers required a transport option other than just a park-and-ride facility, he said.

The bus service already entered Karitane and, instead of returning to the highway, it could continue on, only adding another five minutes to the journey, Mr Verhoef said.

Dunedin Passenger Transport director Kayne Baas said his company had just been awarded the route and would look into taking it along the coast road.

There might be time within the schedule to add the Coast Rd communities, when the door-to-door service was no longer provided, but further work into the idea was needed, he said.

Warrington resident Elspeth Moody asked the council to consider returning to rail.

Council plans spoke of great things about access, yet whenthe city's northern communities asked for it, "they were told they were not for us", she said.

"We're asking you to put your own words into action. We feel very firmly the time to do it is now."

Get the Train spokesman Ross Johnston, whose group included a 2300-signature petition in its submission, called on the council to fund an independent feasibility study into commuter rail services north and south of Dunedin.

If rail could be more cost-effective than travelling by car and with Hillside Engineering in Dunedin to construct and maintain rail cars, then rail for Dunedin was a "no-brainer", even before social and environmental effects were factored in, he said.

Grey Power spokeswoman Jo Millar said some Dunedin bus services were unacceptable to a lot of the organisation's members as they were often late, inaccessible or did not turn up at all, forcing them to find alternatives, sometimes at their own expense.

She also wanted to see more public transport on public holidays such as Christmas Day.

Dunedin member Adrianne Mulqueen said the council should provide bike racks on buses, enable a transport forum and develop a cycling network strategy.

The hearing panel will hear the last submission today.

It will provide its recommendations to a council committee in early June and the plan will go to the full council for adoption on June 24.

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