this is the final version of our submission and no further changes can be made

Bus Go Dunedin is a bus users' advocate that places the needs of public transport passengers first in matters of policy and delivery of bus services in Dunedin.

Dunedin has always been a leader in New Zealand public transport, with one of the world's pioneering cable car services, New Zealand's first electric tram, first trolleybus, important innovator in the design of diesel buses in New Zealand and a leader in developing high-quality, high frequency bus services.

More recently, with the help of the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin buses have become among the most accessible in the world. New buses entering the fleet meet the highest available global emission standards for conventional diesel vehicles. Buses are becoming more affordable with free travel for superannuitants and discounts for students.

A complete overhaul of the Dunedin network is underway, with faster, more frequent and more connected services being introduced.

After a brief flirtation with minimal costs at minimal standards, the Regional Council embraced the concept of continuous improvement to Dunedin bus services. We commend the efforts of the Otago Regional Council, its staff, its contractors and our city's bus drivers over the past several years.

Inclusion of public transport in more aspects of regional policy

Bus Go Dunedin supports the proposed Regional Policy Statement, in particular we support the Statement's suggestion of public transport as one means to reduce dependence on fossil fuels (Policy 3.6.6).

Bus Go Dunedin asks that public transport be included elsewhere in the statement as a solution to these other aspects of regional policy:

  • Making better urban areas
  • Good quality infrastructure
  • Bus Go Dunedin further asks that "public transport" be included in the glossary as one of the definitions of "infrastructure".

Including public transport in definition of "infrastructure"

We support a great many of the policies which refer to infrastructure and the way it is integrated with communities. However it is not clear that the importance given to infrastructure planning is intended to include public transport. We believe that public transport is crucial to the development of sustainable communities. We see the best way to enable this is for public transport to be included in the definition of infrastructure in the Statement's glossary and for it to be mentioned more frequently throughout the Statement's text.

Bus Go Dunedin asks that the Statement add further definition of "infrastructure" to glossary to read: "infrastructure: (m) a network of public transport stops, passenger shelters and facilities linked by local or long-distance public transport services operating on public transport routes"

Climate change

Bus Go Dunedin supports the policies regarding resilience and adapting to climate change but we are disappointed that the idea of preventing climate change is neglected. Bus Go Dunedin asks that the RPS includes positive steps to reduce the contribution by Otago people and industry on human-influenced global warming, in order to forestall climate change, including encouraging the use of public transport as one contribution to a low-carbon economy.

Our response to particular policies

We support Policy 2.1.4 (p29) 'Managing for air quality values' and we recommend public transport, using clean, modern buses as a means of achieving this policy. We congratulate the Otago Regional Council and its contractors for their efforts to improve the emission standards of the Dunedin bus fleet.

We support Objective 3.4 (p56) 'Good quality infrastructure and services meet community needs'

Bus Go Dunedin asks that public transport be mentioned in the introduction to this objective.

We support Policy 3.4.1 'Integrating infrastructure with land use' as a means to ensure the public transport network is considered whenever planning decisions are made.

We support Policy 3.4.2 (p57) 'Managing infrastructure activities' as a means to keep public transport decision making as a key consideration in planning. For this to work, we need public transport to be included among the definitions of "infrastructure".

We support Objective 3.5 'Infrastructure of national and regional significance is managed in a sustainable way' (p59).

We ask that long distance passenger transport services be included in the quoted list of examples of infrastructure of national and regional significance.

We support Policy 3.5.1 (p59) 'Recognising regional and national significance of infrastructure'.

We ask that the list include the following:"(g) networks of passenger transport services between towns and cities"

We support Policy 3.6.6 'Reducing long term demand for fossil fuels'. We particularly support the inclusion of public transport as a means to help achieve this policy.

Bus Go Dunedin asks that item iii be amended to include public transport safety and amenity: "iii. Having high design standards for pedestrian, cyclist and public transport users' safety and amenity"

We support Policy 3.7.4 (p66) 'Designing for good access in public spaces'

Bus Go Dunedin asks that the list of "sectors of the community" be amended to read: "the young, the aged, families, and those with mobility, sensory or cognitive impairments."

We support Policy 3.8.1 (p67) 'Managing for urban growth'. The success of this policy ensuring that public transport infrastructure is efficiently extended alongside urban growth depends on public transport being included as a definition of "infrastructure", as discussed earlier in this submission.

We support Schedule 6.1 (p138) "a safe and enjoyable environment' and we commend the inclusion of "(d) creates transport networks that are safer"

Public transport's place in the draft RPS

The proposed Regional Policy Statement mentions "public transport" five times (p63 twice, 102, 139, 148). One would think that Public Transport would feature more in policy given that it absorbs 38% of the Council's targeted rates, the second highest item after flood protection, and over six times more than the stadium! (Rates brochure 2014-15, p2)

Here's how other regional councils mention public transport in their regional policy statements:

  • ECan: Regional Policy Statement (2013) defines "the region’s core public passenger transport operations" as one of the region's "strategic transport networks" and therefore part of Canterbury's "Strategic infrastructure" (p204)
  • Environment Southland Proposed Regional Policy Statement (2012) (mentions "public transport" eight times, not bad since that council doesn't actually run any!). Their definition of "Infrastructure" includes "Facilities for the loading or unloading of cargo or passengers transported on land by any means" (p144)
  • Environment Waikato Proposed Waikato Regional Policy Statement (November 2010) includes "public transport" nine times. Lists Hamilton's bus station as "Regionally significant infrastructure" (p258)