Media release

Advisory: ORC apology to Port Chalmers bus users

Tuesday 7 November 2023

The Otago Regional Council is apologising to passengers on the Route 14 bus to Port Chalmers after some were left behind due to popularity of public transport buses with cruise ship passengers late Monday afternoon.

The Council has negotiated an agreement with the operator to provide four extra buses at both the peak mornings and afternoons during busy cruise ship days in Dunedin. The first cruise ship arrived on Tuesday and tested the new arrangements designed to ensure the Dunedin public transport service can meet expected increased demand.

Transport Manager Lorraine Cheyne said the bus service ran well for most of the day during off-peak hours, but problems were reported around 4.30pm with a large group of cruise ship passengers expecting to get on the Route 14 bus at the Dunedin bus hub around 4.30pm. The ship was due to leave at 8pm.

Extra buses to cater to the higher demand were not sent as promised and contracted, and ORC has taken this up with the contractor. Affected passengers would have been waiting at the Central Dunedin bus hub, and at stops along the route to Port Chalmers, as at least one bus that the Council knows of left the hub at full capacity, leaving no room for passengers at later stops. The Council also has an agreement with the contractor that the bus driver must maintain a level of capacity on each bus for passengers or local people who will be waiting at bus stops beyond the hub as the bus travels towards Port.

“We’re not yet sure why, and we are investigating further, but for some reason this didn’t happen, and the extra buses did not turn up. We unreservedly apologise to passengers who were left behind as the bus went past full to capacity, and for the fact there were no subsequent back-up buses as we had arranged with the contractor,” she said.

”We have contacted the operator to express our disappointment, and we are meeting with the operator again in coming days to ensure we redouble our efforts to ensure that when the next ship comes to Port Chalmers on 17 November, this does not happen again and local passengers can get on the bus during the cruise ship visits.”

The Council has negotiated some 300 extra services to run on 40 days during the cruise ship season on the Port Chalmers route to alleviate the pressure from cruise ships during the season.