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Otago Regional Council Adopts Regional Public Transport Plan

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) adopted the Regional Public Transport Plan 2021-31 (RPTP) at a Council meeting in Dunedin today. The Plan is a strategic document that guides the planning and delivery of public transport services and infrastructure in Otago.

ORC received 193 submissions on the draft RPTP, and 38 groups and individuals spoke at hearings in Dunedin and Queenstown at the start of June.

Changes from the draft Plan demonstrate a willingness to continue to work with communities across Otago, primarily in Dunedin which has the largest network, to improve and increase public transport.

The plan has not ruled out continuing the $2 fare, nor does it preclude increasing the number of fare concessions. Council will address its Dunedin bus fare structure in August, noting that public transport is a shared cost between users, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and the community.

Chair of the Otago Regional Transport Committee Alexa Forbes thanked everyone who had input on the draft plan.

“Some of the most significant themes that arose from submissions were around carbon reduction, frequency and reliability of services, customer service, equity of access, linkages with Otago’s smaller towns, access to Dunedin’s tertiary precinct, and affordability.

“We acknowledge the community’s input and have taken a number of recommendations on board following the hearings and deliberations.

“This Regional Public Transport Plan has a focus on making the existing networks more attractive through improvements to service frequency. The Plan also enables Council to work with the community on further evidence-based improvements, including new trial services.”

Specific improvements to the RPTP following community feedback include

  • Council will investigate additional services with a priority for South Otago, Upper Clutha, and Waikouaiti to Dunedin. Co-funding for trial services can be sought from Waka Kotahi from 2024.
  • Pets will be allowed on buses with some restrictions. They will be permitted on scheduled weekday services between 9am and 3pm, after 6:30pm, and all day on weekends. Pets must be transported in a carrier.
  • Council will investigate how to improve access to more hoist equipped vehicles for the Total Mobility service.

Total Mobility is a subsidised small passenger service for people that have a disability that prevents them from being able to get to, board, ride, alight from a bus and get to their destination without assistance and in a safe and dignified manner. For the period February 2020 to January 2021, the mean monthly number of Total Mobility trips was just over 8,000 per month.

Council also adopted the Otago parts of the Otago Southland Regional Land Transport Plans, which outlines proposed transport network improvements for the next six years, and forms the application for funding from the National Land Transport Fund for the next three years.

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