Media release

Bus service changes at Covid-19 Alert Level 2

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Buses in Dunedin will resume the full pre-Covid-19 timetable and frequency, while Queenstown services will continue the current timetable.

With New Zealand moving to Covid-19 Alert Level 2 on Thursday, more people will be relying on public transport to get around in Dunedin and the Wakatipu Basin.

Otago Regional Council (ORC) Transport Manager Garry Maloney said changes to Dunedin Orbus services would take effect from Thursday.

“In Dunedin, where we’ve run a version of the weekend timetable during the lockdown, the move to Alert Level 2 means we are going back to the usual, pre-Covid-19 timetable and frequency.

“Our Level 3 and 4 timetable in Queenstown wasn’t very different from the usual timetable, so we’re sticking to this for now, including continuing the extension to Sunshine Bay and the stop at Hanleys Farm.

“Buses will remain free in both networks for the time being,” Mr Maloney said.

Mr Maloney said it was understandable that people would be anxious about using public transport while the Covid-19 risk persisted, and physical distancing measures would remain in place.

“We’re working with operators to support safe distancing on buses. To make it easier, we will be putting up stickers and posters to help direct you where to sit when you’re on the bus.”

“Those distancing measures mean there will be less capacity on public transport services and your usual bus could be full. The capacity on most buses will be limited to 40% of normal seated capacity – or around 25% of normal total capacity, with standing passengers not permitted under Level 2,” Mr Maloney continued.

He suggested passengers consider travelling out of peak periods. In Dunedin, peak travel time is between 7:30 and 8:30am, or between 2:30 and 4:00pm.

“If you can, please plan your journeys in advance, work from home or use another option to get around such as a bike or walking while capacity is limited.”

Mr Maloney said it was essential that people keep track of their travel for health authorities to be able to contact trace effectively.

“Tracking your travel will be even more important at level 2. We’re asking people to keep track of when you catch the bus – date, time and route number. You can fill in a form on ORC’s website, keep your own diary, take a photo of the bus as it arrives or text a friend each time you travel.

“Whatever works best for you, as long as it’s recorded somewhere.”

“We would like to thank our Orbus passengers for being kind to each other at all alert levels, and also our amazing drivers who have kept the bus service going throughout lockdown,” Mr Maloney said.

The following guidelines will help minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading on buses at Alert Level 2:

  • Unless you are travelling with a bubble buddy, keep the seat next to you free. 
  • Please try to keep a 2m distance when queuing for the bus.
  • Orbus remains fare free under Alert Level 2 to ensure there is no contact between passengers and drivers. We will let people know well in advance before this changes.
  • Please continue to enter/exit via the rear doors.
  • If you can, please travel off peak to help spread patronage.


For more information:

0800 ORBUSDN (0800 672 8736)

0800 ORBUSQT (0800 672 8778)