[This is a DRAFT version subject to adjustment]
Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin supports the proposal to divert the peninsula bus route via Andersons Bay to better serve schools in the area. However, we believe this is a very poor solution to transport problems in this area. We want to be clear that we are supporting the proposed change only because it is better than making no change at all.
Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin requests that the ORC instead consider augmenting the Peninsula bus route with an additional school bus service to Tahuna Intermediate.
We accept the assertion by Peninsula folk that "school children are commuters too" and we agree that school children should be provided with transport services of comparable quality to other commuters.
The proposal to divert the Peninsula bus will make travel a little more convenient for pupils commuting to some South Dunedin schools, but will make it less convenient for commuters travelling to the city (by lengthening their journey). If the bus were diverted, many more pupils will use it and it would become crowded. Crowding on this bus would make it less comfortable for its present customers. Existing commuters on the bus service who use it to travel directly to the city may then give up travel by bus.
It should be noted that under this proposal, non-school commuters will endure a lengthened journey time during the 12 weeks of school holidays each year, while no school children will be on board to benefit from the route change. In noting this, we accept the Council's concern that the route change is "at odds"
We don't wish to see two different sets of commuters pitted against each other in this way. The regional council should provide both groups with a quality service, not a miserly compromise.
The recently curtailed Portobello to Tahuna Intermediate school bus service regularly ran with a full load. It continued to do so right up to the announcement that it would cease. Although many other school bus services in the city were poorly-used, this was a successful bus route. It may not have been "commercially" successful, but if it were allowed to operate under the same funding model as other public transport, with a subsidy, it would have been one of the more viable Dunedin bus services.
This provides a logical justification for a relaxation of the ORC's Policy 5 (2014 RPTP) of not running school buses.
To quote our recent submission to the ORC Long Term Plan consultation:
"Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin requests that the ORC consider augmenting the public buses with additional school bus services in the following instances:
- to meet unusual travel needs due to school location and area of pupils' residence
- where such travel is to and from pupils' "in-zone" school
- where there are sufficient pupils on a desired route to warrant the use of a large school bus
We commend the school bus service provided by Gisborne District Council to the ORC's consideration."
A Peninsula to Tahuna Intermediate school bus would meet all of our above suggested criteria. It need not operate from Portobello each morning; passengers could transfer from Harington Point or Portobello at Macandrew Bay or a similar midway point. The city-bound bus would then have moderate loadings for the remainder of its journey (and contrarywise in the afternoons).
Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin supports introducing an additional afternoon outbound service in the afternoons. We agree with this being also diverted via Andersons Bay as proposed, with the same qualification of our support as above. This increase in service should go ahead, with a direct route, if the council provides a school bus as requested.