The Otago Regional Council has met to discuss a transport plan for Otago and Southland, detailing the transport priorities from 2015 to 2021. For Dunedin, the plans include the building of a new central bus hub and protected cycling lanes along State Highway 1.
The areas of focus for Dunedin, said Chairman of the Otago Land Transport Committee Trevor Kempton, are the roading network itself and public transport.
“For the roading network, we are looking at the various modes of transport,” said Kempton. This is based on the belief that, over time, cycling will become more popular as a means of transport. He says “there is always a question of safety for cyclists in heavily trafficked areas, like State Highway 1”.
It is hoped that the central city bus hub will be located on Great King Street between St. Andrew Street and Moray Place. Other features will include the introduction of integrated ticketing, as well as “super stops”.
At this stage, Kempton is unsure of the form of the bus hub: “whether it will just be a well-serviced set of stops … or an off-road location has not been decided yet”. Kempton said the hub is estimated to be complete in the next six years.
The developments are set to cost approximately $3.9 million, with a recommended $500,000 contribution from the Dunedin City Council.
While the protected cycling lane is likely to affect Dunedin students using bicycles to commute, the improvement of bus services could mean they also become a lot more student friendly.
“There will be easier ticketing. The new routes will be more direct, and there will be less going around suburban streets,” said Kempton.
The number of services going through the university area is unlikely to change, nor is the status of the current student discount.
University of Otago students, Bella Smith and Emily Chang, said they use the Dunedin bus service regularly and believe the proposed changes “will make Dunedin more like Christchurch”. Smith and Chang said the upgrades would make their journeys “more efficient”.
Other plans for the Otago region include a heavier focus on cycling, with Portobello Road being widened and continuing the construction of the State Highway 88 cycleway to Port Chalmers. A two-lane bridge is to be built at Kawarau Falls, downstream of the existing bridge but with improved alignment. Other areas of focus include plans to reduce road closures due to flooding and to reduce tourist-driver accidents.