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Draft public transport plan out for consultation

Draft public transport plan out for consultation

Otago people are invited to have their say on proposed major improvements to the region’s public transport network.

The proposals are outlined in ORC’s draft Regional Public Transport Plan, which councillors have approved for public release. The 2014 plan, when adopted, will take effect from next year.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said the draft plan provides the framework for managing public transport services in Otago, and sets out goals and priorities for developing public transport services and infrastructure.

The key aspects relate to passenger transport networks in Dunedin. No significant changes are proposed for Wakatipu Basin where bus services are operating without subsidy from council.

Cr Woodhead said the draft plan represents an important shift in the council’s approach to public transport services particularly regarding the Dunedin network.

“Historically council provided bus services targeting coverage of the city as the way to grow patronage and improve services. The new approach is in response to public demand for simplified, more direct routes with regular frequencies,” he said.

The key changes proposed for the Dunedin network include:

· A new route structure featuring simple, direct routes with no variations and more regular frequencies, enabling users to reach their destination sooner

· The development of a central city hub where users can easily transfer from one bus to another without an additional cost for that fare zone

· Pairing of routes so that users do not have to change buses when travelling from one quarter of the city to another

· Reduction of the number of fare zones from seven to three.

· ORC withdrawal from providing contracted school bus services. The proposed new network and ticketing system will enable students to access their chosen school without having to use a separate school bus system.

· The existing Palmerston, Waikouaiti, Karitane, and Waitati services will become part of the Dunedin network

· Wingatui, which has for a long time had very low patronage, will no longer be served.

· The plan identifies issues around the relationship between roading design and bus service provision in Queenstown that need to be addressed through inter-agency management.

Cr Woodhead said the plan’s city-wide approach to public transport envisages that bus routes will use major roads, not small residential streets.

“Because bus routes will be as direct as possible, there will be reduced travel times for many services. Bus timetables will also be simpler and easier to follow as a result of the proposed changes, to make services generally more regular and frequent.”

Submissions on the draft plan open on July 21 and close on August 22.

ORC is holding public information sessions on the proposed Dunedin changes as follows:

Meridian Mall: Saturday, July 26 11am to 2pm.

Pak ’n’ Save South Dunedin: Tuesday, July 29, 11am-2pm.

Mosgiel Library: Friday August 1, 3pm-5pm.

“Public transport is used by several thousand people in Dunedin. We therefore look forward to members of the public getting involved in the consultation process to give us their opinions about the ideas and options contained in the plan,” Cr Woodhead said.

The plan enables ORC to seek support from the Government to subsidise services and contract operators to provide them.

It also indicates the services anticipated in the region provided by taxis, shuttles, private hire vehicles and buses. This includes the taxi-based Total Mobility Scheme through which ORC helps those who qualify through disability and are unable to use public transport.

Cr Woodhead said the preparation of the plan had been a collaborative effort involving ORC working with:

· New Zealand Transport Agency
· Dunedin City Council
· Queenstown Lakes District Council
· Bus operators in Dunedin and Queenstown
· Groups representing the transport disadvantaged.

ends

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