ORC avoids city bus loop

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JONO ED­WARDS jono.ed­wards@odt.co.nz

A FREE Dunedin cen­tral­city bus loop is still on the cards, but the re­gional coun­cil says it will not be in­volved.

Late last year the Dunedin City Coun­cil asked the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil to in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tial of a route with a ‘‘small to medium­sized ve­hi­cle with low or no emis­sions’’ go­ing from near the Otago Mu­seum to Queens Gar­dens.

A re­gional coun­cil meet­ing this week de­cided to ad­vise the city coun­cil it would take no fur­ther ac­tion on the loop.

A re­port by Ian Wal­lis As­so­ciates said the loop would not ben­e­fit the re­gional coun­cil’s bus net­work, and might even be detri­men­tal to it.

Re­gional coun­cil cor­po­rate ser­vices di­rec­tor Nick Don­nelly yes­ter­day said while it would not run the ser­vice, the city coun­cil was ‘‘wel­come to pur­sue it them­selves’’.

The city coun­cil would then have to reg­is­ter the bus ser­vice with the re­gional coun­cil, he said.

Dunedin city coun­cil­lor David Ben­son­Pope said it was ‘‘loopy’’ for the re­gional coun­cil to ad­vise the city coun­cil it would not pur­sue the project, as it was never asked to.

If the city coun­cil funded such a ser­vice there would be ques­tions around fund­ing as the re­gional coun­cil is the or­gan­i­sa­tion legally tasked with pub­lic trans­port.

Cr Ben­son­Pope said he was fo­cused on in­ves­ti­gat­ing ways to make it hap­pen.

‘‘I’m sure we can find a way to fund it our­selves, aside from the usual trans­port fund­ing sys­tem. It seems to me this is a no­brainer.’’

The Wal­lis re­port costed the ser­vices at about $155,000 for one­way or $310,000 for both a clock­wise and anti­clock­wise route, based on a $1 fare.

Cr Ben­son­Pope said those fig­ures made the ser­vice ‘‘even more de­sir­able’’.

‘‘If it’s of that or­der of cost, why would we charge at all? My pref­er­ence would clearly be for it to be a free ser­vice in the in­ner city.

‘‘It seems to me it’d be a real plus to have that ser­vice, es­pe­cially a free one. I’m on the case, re­ally.’’

The re­gional coun­cil was asked to cost it as it had the ‘‘knowl­edge and con­tacts’’, he said.

The mu­seum had in­di­cated to him there was a great need for such a ser­vice, he said.

The Wal­lis re­port said the money used to cre­ate the route would be ‘‘bet­ter used to boost ser­vice lev­els on ex­ist­ing core routes’’.

It did not ser­vice any des­ti­na­tions not reached by other buses on the net­work, the re­port said.

The route was pro­posed to run on Ge­orge and Princes Sts one way and then mostly on Cum­ber­land or Cas­tle Sts, de­pend­ing on the di­rec­tion of the loop.

The route would have a fre­quency of about 12 min­utes.

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