Media release

Huge rise in bus use in Queenstown and Dunedin

Thursday 9 May 2024

Bus patronage in Queenstown and Dunedin is at a six-year high.

The number of bus trips taken in Queenstown from July 2023 to March 2024 was 1,440,645. In Dunedin there were 2,506,816 bus trips. March 2024 was the highest month on record for Dunedin, while in Queenstown January, February and March 2024 all registered record patronage of over 168,000 trips per month.

Co-chair of Otago Regional Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee Alexa Forbes says patronage for the nine-month period is at a six year high, showing it has recovered well from recent Covid and driver shortage disruptions.

"There has been a noticeable increase in bus use in both Dunedin and Queenstown in recent years which is fantastic, and the numbers clearly show that this is a continuing trend.”

Cr Forbes says February and March 2024 saw record patronage days in Dunedin, with daily trips exceeding 14,000 on several days. “Patronage on 29 February and 7 and 13 March all exceeded 14,500 trips, with the 14,696 trips taken on 13 March setting the new record number of daily trips taken on the Dunedin network.”

Queenstown patronage for the nine months to date exceeds the full year patronage for the past four years and is just 27,412 trips short of the previous annual high in 2018 – 19, meaning that year-end patronage will exceed all previous years since the network’s inception in 2017.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers says, “Public transport continues to play an essential role in addressing the growth challenges faced by our district. These latest figures demonstrate that a well-functioning, reliable bus service will attract increasing numbers of commuters and visitors keen to leave their cars at home. I welcome the benefits that brings in terms of reduced congestion and lower emissions and look forward to ORC’s continuing investment in the bus network.”

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich says, “I’m pleased to see residents are using the bus system in such high numbers, and that patronage has well and truly rebounded after a lull due to Covid-19. Using public transport is a win-win – it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and ease traffic congestion at the same time.”

Total Mobility patronage for the last nine months showed an increase of 11.7% compared to the same period last year. Total Mobility is a scheme administered by ORC that provides subsidised travel for people with disabilities.

The full report can be read within the agenda of today’s Public and Active Transport Committee agenda here: