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Wednesday, 03 August 2022

Mayors tired of public transport ‘no show’

Both Mayors are on standby and ready to join a conversation that could transform public transport in Dunedin and Queenstown Lakes.

A lack of action on reducing emissions and delivering a fit-for-purpose public transport network is the driver behind frustration from Otago Mayors Aaron Hawkins (Dunedin) and Jim Boult (Queenstown Lakes).

In early May, the Mayors issued a joint letter to the Otago Regional Council (ORC) looking to open discussions about different models of governance for the public transport services.

The position of the DCC and QLDC remains in favour of a transfer of the service to territorial authorities, but they were prepared to compromise and entertain alternative options in good faith.

Acknowledging that the ORC had delivered important service improvements such as the introduction of the Bee Card and flat fares, the letter presented rising fuel prices and climate change as catalysts for the debate.

“In areas of significant urban growth (both Queenstown and Wānaka) the need to proactively design and deliver public transport services, ahead of planned development, is crucial to reduce car-based dependency for these new communities.

“Similarly, there is a need for rapid actions that significantly reduce transport emissions, with public transport playing a key role in realising the degree of mode shift that is required. As such, we need to have greater integration between management of the road network and public transport now.

“We do not believe that the current arrangement of split transport responsibilities can deliver the scale or speed of change that is needed. The time is right to consider how full integration would be best achieved” the statement read.

After almost three months of chasing, Mayor Boult feels that zero progress is being made on this important issue.

“We’re continually being told discussions by the ORC haven’t been held, despite being keen to progress them. We’re told there will be a workshop, a paper, a decision. But so far nothing.

“Our locals are the ones that are crying out for a reliable, usable and environmentally friendly public transport system and that’s why we want to have a discussion about how that can be delivered – whether that’s in partnership with the ORC or by QLDC,” Mayor Boult says.

“How long does it take to organise a meeting?” asks Mayor Hawkins.

“The closer we get to local body elections, the more it looks like this has been put on the never-never. If that’s the case, and we certainly hope it isn’t, we at least deserve to be told that.”

Both Mayors are on standby and ready to join a conversation that could transform public transport in Dunedin and Queenstown Lakes.

But time is running out and they’re growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of a timetable.

ENDS|KUA MUTU.

Media contact for QLDC: communications@qldc.govt.nz or call 03 441 1802

Media contact for DCC: communications@dcc.govt.nz