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Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin

Submission to the Dunedin City Council 10 Year Plan 2018

Introduction

In our submission we will make one request for the DCC to participate in a major change of public transport governance by participating in joint regional/district council management of bus services

Another request in this submission is for the DCC to improve the accessibility of existing bus stops while carrying out programmed maintenance of footpaths, kerbs and road pavements.

PART 1: Public transport governance in Dunedin

The successful implementation of the "Orbus Queenstown" of joint regional/district council management of bus services demonstrates that a similar move for Dunedin is timely. Both councils have been talking about this for years. Now it is time to get on with it:

  • the bus hub design is complete and contracts for construction are imminent
  • full implementation the Public Transport Operating Model is almost complete
  • all routes will have been re-contracted within a few months, beginning a decade-long period of stability
  • the city's bus fleet has been almost completely renewed or replaced
  • there is a renewed enthusiasm for public transport at central government level

Benefits of joint management

Bus routes being designed and implemented to be more compatible with the roading network Councillors will be familiar with the problem of bus route changes in recent years causing damage to city roads.

  • Sutcliffe St in St Clair was severely damaged by a bus route extension that only lasted a few months
  • Canongate was completely rebuilt between Brown St and Serpentine Ave after only a few years of bus diversions along it, only to have the bus service removed altogether shortly after the reconstruction was completed
  • The steep, frost-prone sections of Shetland St and Lynn St in Wakari are showing signs of damage after only a few months of new use by buses, and residents have succeeded in having the ORC agree to remove buses from these streets at the next timetable change

Bus infrastructure implemented more quickly and efficiently by joint, simultaneous decision making Councillors will recall recent clangers and own-goals caused by poor communication between the two councils

  • the recent installation of a temporary bus stop on the Andersons Bay causeway, six months after it was first requested following an identified safety flaw with the existing stop -- several near-misses involving school children occurred during the drawn-out design and approval process between the two councils
  • Rosebery St in Belleknowes, where DCC contractors have dutifully re-painted the yellow lines on long-closed bus stops
  • Marne St, where a rest home still has no bus stop several years after buses began running past its front door

Our request

Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin asks the Dunedin City Council to negotiate and develop a model of shared management and funding of the Dunedin bus network with the Otago Regional Council for consultation and implementation as part of both councils' 2019 Annual Plan process.

We envisage the shared model as including:

  • public transport rates similar to those paid at present by Dunedin ratepayers but split between DCC and ORC rates bills
  • a joint governance committee of all Dunedin constituency ORC councillors and the same number of DCC councillors
  • a management team of staff seconded from both councils and jointly employed by both, headed by a "bus tsar" personally responsible for all aspects of both councils' statutory duties in public transport management and infrastructure provision

Funding

Money must follow renewed city council interest in public transport. It is a political reality that in any joint management structure, both parties need to bring equal resources to the table. It will not be sufficient for ORC to bring money and DCC to only bring ideas and enthusiasm. For this reason we propose a DCC rates increase equal to half the present ORC Dunedin public transport levy, with the ORC continuing to collect the other half. The flow of money would be joined back together under the new shared management structure. In this way, Jo or Joe Ratepayer will not experience any increased financial burden. We acknowledge that there will be some "loss in transit" of money being split and recombined in this way, but it should be well under 1%. The DCC portion could be levied in a different way, for example by increasing parking meter fees (as was done in Queenstown) or from some other city council revenue, but we note the net effect on city ratepayers is still the same.

The opportunity for improvements to the bus service

Many would see this process we are calling for -- the introduction of joint council management -- as an opportunity for increasing the level of funding and thereby improving or increasing the bus service. And maybe it is, and of course we want the service improved. But it may be better to isolate the two concepts, as it would be a pity for the joint management model to be closely associated with an increase in public spending, which can happen under any model.

Relevance to DCC policy

This proposal is consistent with the DCC Strategic Framework outcome "Integrated Transport: A connected city with a safe, accessible and low-carbon transport system" through the priority "Travel choices: prioritising investment and space to improve the provision of active modes and public transport". The DCC needs to be involved in public transport at governance level to achieve this outcome for the city.

PART 2: Improvements to existing bus stops

Capital improvements to the city's public transport infrastructure, including existing bus stops, is of course the responsibility of the regional council. But we see an opportunity for the DCC to participate in a programme of incremental improvement to the accessibility of bus stops as a very useful by-product of the city's ongoing programmed maintenance of footpaths, kerbs and roads.

Our request

Bus Users Support Group Otepoti-Dunedin asks the Dunedin City Council to, while carrying out programmed maintenance of footpaths, kerbs and roads, to incrementally reinstate Dunedin bus stops to the national standards published by NZTA in its Guidelines for public transport infrastructure and facilities 2014

How this can be done at negligible cost to ratepayers

A massive programme of renewal of bus stops carried out in isolation would be very expensive (and the financial responsibility of the regional council). Let us be very clear, this is not what we are asking for.

What we seek is, every time a DCC contractor repairs a bit of road, footpath or kerb, that just happens to have a bus stop on it, that they do so with a copy of the NZTA Guidelines tucked under their arm, and reinstate the bus stop to the new standard, without incurring any additional cost.

  • A repainted bus stop will use a litre or so of yellow paint whether or not the bus stop is from then on able to accommodate a closely-parked bus alongside the kerb allowing easy access for mobility impaired passengers
  • A new length of concrete kerb will cost the same whether it is the kind that shreds bus tyres that come anywhere near it or the kind that allows buses to pull closely alongside without fear of tyre damage.
  • A new bus stop pole and sign will cost the same whether or not it is installed where it will be out of the way of approaching buses, enabling them to pull closely alongside without fear of side-mirror, body or window damage.

We have made the bold claim that all this can be done at no cost. But perhaps there will be some costs of photocopying the Guidelines and training staff and contractors on how to use them. This could be funded on application to the ORC, or the DCC could take on the additional minor cost as part of its general hospitality to its citizens.

Relevance to DCC policy

In addition to the outcome and priority quoted above, this proposal is consistent with the DCC strategic framework outcome "Social Wellbeing: A supportive city with caring communities and a great quality of life" and priorities " Connected people: making people feel connected and involved in community and city affairs" and "Healthy and safe people: promoting good health and ensuring people feel safe, and are safe"