An eight-month study into the future of Dunedin’s public transport system will be underway shortly - with a long-term emphasis on boosting bus use.
The underlying goal is to increase the number of Dunedin commuter bus journeys to work from 3.4% of passengers in 2018 toward 8% by 2030, says ORC’s Interim Transport Manager Doug Rodgers.
“It’s an opportunity to encourage an increase in bus patronage of people going to work, to inspire a move away from what is at present high private vehicle use,” Mr Rodgers says of daily work commuters.
The study contract has been let to professional design services and engineering consultancy company Stantec.
Stantec will be considering a wide variety of issues, from bus journey reliability and frequency and fare levels, and also how to encourage doubling commuter bus use away from private vehicles.
The study Fares and Frequency Single Stage Business Case, which does not include public consultation, is scheduled to begin in November and be completed by June next year.
Key investigation for “express service” linking Mosgiel and Dunedin
Mr Rodgers says a key investigation will be into an “express service” linking Mosgiel and Dunedin, given the housing growth in Mosgiel and the “overwhelming” use at present of private cars for commuting.
“Focusing on these areas [Mosgiel and Outram] has the biggest opportunity to convert long distance car journeys to public transport,” he says.
He highlighted it is important to recognise and to respond to the fact that 65% of car journeys into Dunedin’s CBD are from south of the city in general.
Mr Rodgers says the catalyst for the transport Programme Business Case goes back several years (see Background below) and requires an in-depth understanding of the problems, opportunities and constraints facing public transport, from evidence-based data, information collection and analysis.
Reducing carbon emissions
“We want to identify an optimal mix of alternatives and options to alleviate the problems, but also assess the potential opportunities for improvements,” Mr Rodgers says.
The purpose of the Fares and Frequency Single Stage Business Case is to develop a plan to increase bus usage for work and educational commuters which “reduces carbon emissions from single occupant vehicles, and is realistic and fundable”, he says.
Mr Rodgers says the business case could include opportunities, such as the integration of the new Dunedin Hospital into the city, where the construction disruption could be used to trigger travel behaviour change; from private cars to buses.
He says the key questions are what changes need to be made to the current timetabled services to better accommodate work and school start and finish times, remove gaps and standardise frequencies.
The study will assess which routes would grow their peak patronage the most from making them more frequent, and how should those changes could be staged.
Also, what fare structure should apply and was there additional revenue sources available to support public transport services.
Lastly, what is the appropriate level of infrastructure which should be provided at stops where multiple services converge; described as “Super Stops”, and where would they be they needed.
Option of building ‘Super Stops’
Mr Rodgers says ‘Super Stops’ could offer passengers a higher level of services, such as seating and shelter, nearby toilet, bike stands and locker facilities. They could potentially be installed at Mosgiel, Green Island, Cargills Corner, near the University of Otago and Gardens areas.
However, an earlier report in April to Council’s Strategy and Planning Committee notes the delivery of improved bus services and construction of Super Stops will depend on the outcomes of the business case, and subsequent decisions by Council and Waka Kotahi.
Image: Artist impression of proposed 'Super Stop.
The 2018 announcement of the new Dunedin Hospital site prompted additional transport planning work around the city, initiated by the Dunedin City Council and Waka Kotahi; looking at options around the future of Dunedin’s SH1 one-way system.
In December 2020 ORC approved the inclusion of the Council projects in the Shaping Future Dunedin Transport Programme, as part of a business case development of the projects. The project was approved by Councillors last April.
The study aligns with both the ORC’s Regional Land Transport Plan 2021-2031 and Long Term Plan 2021-2031.
The study includes bus service improvements, parking strategy, assessment of new bus shelters and using digital timetables, pedestrian and cycleway works and education on changing from private vehicle to bus services.
The Shaping Future Dunedin Transport Programme is part of a set of complementary projects developed for the Connecting Dunedin Partnership.
The Connecting Dunedin Partnership is made up of the Dunedin City Council, ORC and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. The DCC and Waka Kotahi will be producing similar reports covering their respective projects and contributions.
Earlier Stantec projects in Otago
Queenstown Transport Business Case