Media release

Bus passenger numbers at an all-time high in Dunedin and Queenstown

Friday 9 August 2019

Passengers made four million bus trips in Queenstown and Dunedin in the last year, breaking records for patronage in the region.

The combined passenger numbers in the two Orbus networks, run by the Otago Regional Council (ORC), charted well above targets for the 2018/19 financial year which ended on June 30.

Patronage in the Dunedin network grew by 8%, more than double the growth target, and with continual month-on-month growth.

In Queenstown, where the Orbus network was launched in November 2017, there has also been steady growth in patronage (64%) compared to 2017/18.

Because it is a new network, passenger targets in Queenstown for 2018/19 were set against calendar year 2017, with a 182% increase this year exceeding the 105% target.

Orbus carried over 2.5 million trips in Dunedin, and nearly 1.5 million in Queenstown in the last year. Combined patronage for the networks broke four million trips for the first time.

ORC General Manager Operations Gavin Palmer said the results were a positive reflection of improvements in public transport.

“Long-time bus users in Dunedin and Queenstown know we’ve invested a lot of work into our public transport networks in recent years, and it’s great to see the positive response to that investment.”

Improvements in Dunedin culminated this March with the successful opening of the Bus Hub.

“The overall uptake of the hub has gone really smoothly and been well-received by passengers,” said Dr Palmer.

“The hub built upon staged improvements to routes and timetables since 2015, which simplified and regularised the service dramatically, making for a much more passenger-friendly network.”

“In Queenstown, the $2 GoCard service has been popular since it launched in 2017, and the growing patronage numbers show how important it is as a transport option in the Wakatipu Basin,” said Dr Palmer.

“We’re especially pleased to have recently launched real-time tracking for Queenstown bus users, and we’re also working towards launching the service in Dunedin.

“We continually monitor services in both Dunedin and Queenstown, implementing changes where we can within the wider context of each network. For example, we are looking at providing a Lake Hayes Estate direct service in the coming months, which is something that’s been in really high demand from the community.”

Increased patronage reflects happy passengers. Earlier this year, ORC conducted the passenger satisfaction survey from the NZ Transport Agency, with both Dunedin and Queenstown scoring highly for passenger satisfaction. Orbus Dunedin scored 88% and Orbus Queenstown came in at 97% for overall passenger satisfaction.


To see patronage and revenue figures, visit:

Dunedin -

Queenstown -