How we are adapting in COVID-19 Alert Level 3?

Thursday 30 April 2020

Orbus has moved into COVID-19 Alert Level 3 as of Tuesday 28 April. For now, the timetable remains the same under Alert Level 3 as it was under Alert Level 4 (with one change in Queenstown). But as more and more people return to work or school, or use the bus to access essential and non-essential services (where this is permitted under Alert Level 3), capacity will be reviewed.

Increased capacity

We are monitoring demand to do our best to continue offering a service where people can physically distance from each other and from the driver.

We are working with our operators in Dunedin and Queenstown as well as organisations such as schools to evaluate demand, when it is likely to increase and where, for example on key routes and school routes.

If a bus is full (at the moment ‘full’ means it’s at capacity under the physical distancing measures of 2m), drivers will have to turn away waiting passengers. They need to do this to protect those already on the bus. However, we are working with the operators to have buses on standby to provide additional capacity.

We ask that you please have patience with us, particularly bus drivers, as we work our way through the changing times and demands. 


Planning to catch the bus to school?

Let us know if you plan to start catching the bus back to school. This will ensure we have adequate capacity and can allow for safe distancing.

Students or parents can fill in a form on our website to register if they plan to use Orbus to get to and from school during Alert Level 3 here:

Please note this registration is not for Ministry of Education-operated buses. This is only for the Orbus buses operated by the Otago Regional Council. The information will be kept private and only used for the purpose of Orbus school bus planning.

If you are unable to fill in this form, please email or call us. Contact details are at the end of this column.


Thanks to our non-working drivers

We often thank our drivers who are keeping the buses going, but there are also many bus drivers who are in isolation due to age or medical conditions. Some have taken annual leave during lockdown in order to balance driver roster requirements.

We thank these drivers as well for playing their part in keeping our community safe, and the operation running.


Where do I find timetable information?

During the COVID-19 crisis we haven’t been able to replace the on-street timetables, fold-out maps and booklets. This means for many people who are unable to access online timetables it’s not always clear how to plan their journey.

On the whole, in Dunedin we are operating a Saturday timetable on Saturdays and weekdays, with the usual Sunday timetable on Sunday. In Queenstown, we are running on an hourly schedule with an additional half hourly on route 1 under Alert Level 3. However, here and there, there are some additions so if you are unsure please call us.

Our call centre is operational during this time. For on-the-spot information call 0800 ORBUSDN (0800 672 8736) for Dunedin or 0800 ORBUSQT (0800 672 8778) for Queenstown, or email us at