Bus usage up since hub opens


Bus usage has increased slightly since the Great King St hub opened last March.

An Official Information Act request to the Otago Regional Council revealed patronage increased by 72,579 rides between April 1 and October 31 last year, compared with the same period in 2018.

Patronage for the period was 1,485,260 in 2018 and 1,557,839 last year.

Apart from June and August, when numbers decreased 334 and 264 respectively, each month last year increased compared with 2018.

The month with the biggest increase was July, when patronage climbed by 25,380.

Last May was the most popular month for bus users, 244,713 opting to hop on board, while April 2018 was the least popular with 178,507 rides.

Council transport manager Garry Maloney was pleased with the increase.

‘‘Network changes with more frequent, consistent services in 2017 vastly improved the usability of the network, and now with the hub connecting almost all the Orbus routes, catching the bus in Dunedin has never been so simple and user-friendly,’’ Mr Maloney said.

‘‘With further improvements, including the launch of the Bee Card, the electronic tag-on, tag-off bus card, we expect to keep this momentum.’’

Bus Users Support Group Otepoti Dunedin co-president Alex King said an increase in patronage was good news.

‘‘Personally, I have found it very convenient to be able to use the bus hub,’’ Mr King said.

He thought buses were being used more throughout the country, and worldwide.

The regional council had done a ‘‘good job’’ of improving facilities and aspects of the hub and service people had been unhappy with.

There was still room for improvement but ‘‘with all that happening I’m not surprised that it [the number of patrons] has gone up’’.

Feedback had been mixed, as some people found the hub worked for them but others were disadvantaged, he said.

Bus-user Gisela Andrew, of Dunedin, said she caught the bus once or twice a week from stop E.

She had been using the bus system for about 45 years, but had not noticed an increase in patronage on her rides.

She did not like that her bus stop was moved from outside the library to the hub.

‘‘I like to go to the library and that’s very far for me to walk with my books.’’