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Peninsula Bus Service - Opinion Piece CNR Stephen Woodhead (Chair)

28 April 2018

Peninsula Bus Service - Opinion Piece CNR Stephen Woodhead (Chair)

26 April 2018

Peninsula Bus Service

It is my hope that this offers some insight into the Otago Regional Council’s decision-making process and highlights the options that are currently available, to ensure children on the peninsula can attend school in a safe and timely manner. Whether families choose to utilise those services available, is out of our hands. However, we do very much care about all members of our community. That is why it’s been disappointing to see the stories regarding the Peninsula bus service without all the facts being presented. Running a public bus system is inherently complex. Changes that appear minor, can and often do have ripple effects that affect other members of the community using the same service. It’s not a one-fits all approach. There are always two sides to every rationale.

I recently attended a meeting with school representatives and Councillors regarding the Peninsula bus service and the Regional Passenger Transport Plan (RPTP). We explained the ORC’s intention to review timetables and implement changes in line with the operational introduction of the bus hub. We considered this meeting to be productive as it allowed us to explain how the public transport system can and should be used effectively, whilst giving us insight into the schools’ decision to withdraw the service they contracted for Term 4 of 2017 and Term 1 of 2018.

Our RPTP aims to simplify route structures and provide a more direct, frequent and consistent service whilst increasing public transport use by the community. It has been claimed that changes made in September 2017 has decreased services to the peninsula. This is incorrect. Services have significantly increased from 79 trips each way weekly, to 130. Bus frequency has also increased from 25-90 minutes from Portobello, to every 30-60 minutes at the same time daily. There are other significant initiatives underway which will enhance the service, including the new bus hub, a new electronic ticketing system and real time information. These initiatives will improve the efficiency of the network, especially in relation to transfers, between routes. It is our mission to provide an outstanding public transport system to our communities. With patronage across Dunedin up 7% since last year, we feel we are on our way to achieving that.

Unfortunately, it is unrealistic for public transport to provide a door to door service, especially when it’s expected to be heavily subsidised by ratepayers and NZTA. However, making use of our transfers does allows users of the public transport system to get to schools across the city, on time. For example: The No.18 bus leaves Broad Bay at 7.34am and transfers to No.3 Ocean Grove service at Andersons Bay Road. There is an up to 13-minute transfer wait then a 400m walk from Royal Crescent, arriving at Tahuna Intermediate at 8.20am. Using the transfer eliminates the 20-minute walk from Andersons Bay Road. But it appears there is a desire by the community to catch the later 8.04am bus (rather than the 7.34am). The journey planner shows this results in an 8.50am arrival at Tahuna Intermediate using the transfer to the No. 3 (and 8.48am walking from Andersons Bay Road).

Prior to Term 4 in 2017, Bayfield, Tahuna, Kings and Queens contracted their own bus service for which the ORC provided assistance and funding. The schools used that service at their own cost for Term 1 of 2018 but since made the commercial decision to stop due to a lack of patronage. The service required 79 students daily to break even and was not achieving that. When the ORC asked why the service was dropped before Council had undertaken its signalled timetable review, their response was that the numbers of students using the service would further drop significantly in Terms 2 and 3 as students undertook extracurricular activities before and after school. Therefore, the bus service would be even less commercially viable.

In view of this, the route variations proposed would only service a small handful of students. In fact, the current routes and timetables which offer increased frequency and consistency will be of far more benefit to students who will now be starting and finishing over longer and more varied times, which the public service better caters for.

I hope this information provides the community with a better understanding of the services currently offered and the positive changes we will continue to make with our bus service. It has been great to see such passionate engagement around this issue and we encourage all members of the community continue to use their voices on the issues that affect us all.

Information Request – Otago Peninsula Buses

Last month the Otago Regional Council received a number of requests for information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA). A copy of the request along with the responses and relevant documentation can be found below:

‘…1. A full copy of any and all meeting minutes of the 10 April 2018 meeting of ORC Executives and School Principals.

  1. A full copy of any and all individual notes taken by ORC Executives at the 10 April 2018 meeting of ORC Executives and School Principals.
  2. Any internal ORC memos which pertain to the 10 April 2018 meeting between ORC Executives and School Principals.
  3. Any internal ORC Executive emails which pertain to the 10 April 2018 meeting between ORC Executives and School Principals.
  4. Any and all internal policy documents which informed ORC position taken at the 10 April 2018 meeting between ORC Executives and School Principals.’

Questions 1, 2 and 3

No minutes of the meeting were taken nor were any notes taken by ORC Executives at the 10 April meeting, as such these parts of the request are refused in accordance with section 17(e) of the LGOIMA as the information does not exist.

Question 4

Please find relevant emails via the following link:

Emails >>

Question 5

Please find a copy of the Regional Public Transport Plan 2014 via the following link:

Regional Public Transport Plan 2014 >>

Also included is a copy of the agenda for the 10 April meeting of ORC Executives and School Principals;

Meeting Agenda >>

Those who have requested this information have the right to approach the ombudsman regarding the decision with respect to this request, further details can be found at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or Freephone 0800 802 602.

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