The debate between the Otago Peninsula community and the Otago Regional Council over the provision of bus services for school commuters has been a long and arduous one. Recently, local parent Jason Graham and I presented a petition of nearly 1000 signatures seeking three very simple things;
A timetable change
An additional bus to create a half hourly service like the rest of the city
A minor route change that caters for all users.
Over the course of the bus argument the way in which the community has presented well researched, reasoned and pragmatic solutions has been difficult for the Regional Council to answer. Combine that with a sympathetic media and the campaign has been very effective. However, what has also been effective is the way the community removed the emotion from the debate. That has allowed a far more compelling and coherent argument to be presented. Whether that will be successful is now up for debate. The community has been united over this issue and has shown considerable resolve. I can only hope that it’s not in vain.
The Otago Peninsula deserves better service from public transport provided by the Otago Regional Council. However, we are not the only community that are not having the appropriate service delivered in the community. Its not about asking for special treatment, but asking for what is fair and reasonable to get our kids to school, people to work and our elderly to essential services.
With the Otago Regional Council looking at transferring the management of the bus service to the Dunedin City Council. . While no timeframe has been given for the proposed transfer of management its probably a good time for Otago Peninsula residents to consider their use of the current service and what their needs are. Public transport services are important for our area and especially for the many high school children who use them. Currently, the Peninsula service is heavily subsidised and that means that our level of patronage is low. People who rely on the bus should be keeping a “weather eye” on the future management of the service and whether changes to its current format are made in the future.