Transport problems aired

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Concerns over transportation and journey connection problems in the Clutha district may eventually force a retired Balclutha resident to move to Central Otago.

Margaret Lamond raised her concerns during an informal public meeting in the Clutha District Council chambers last Tuesday, held to seek input from residents about transport concerns in the district.

Mrs Lamond said she no longer had family living locally, and because of difficulties connecting to the bus services through to Central Otago, which often entailed a long round›trip to Dunedin, she was now considering moving.

“There are no shops, no taxis, no buses and no family so I’m thinking about moving.’’
Fellow Balclutha retiree Elizabeth Smithies said she and her husband were visually impaired, and the lack of a Balclutha taxi service or suitable bus connections made it challenging to get to appointments in Dunedin.

“We are totally reliant on volunteers to get us about; [community care provider] Access helps out, but that’s limited.”

The women were among 28 people at the meeting.

A common thread was a perceived lack of public passenger services to the South Otago region. Otago Regional Council ward councillor Kate Wilson said the call for feedback had come the right time.

“We are starting a review of our regional transportation plan for the next 10 years, and now is the best time to talk about it.”

Some residents discussed community-led services.

Reg Smith, of Clinton, and Don Sinclair, of Tahakopa, talked about the work done by senior citizen groups, providing small community bus services to Balclutha, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Both highlighted a severe lack of parking in Dunedin around the hospital and central city, which meant many of their members now preferred to go to Invercargill for shopping or medical appointments.

ORC chairman Andrew Noone said submissions to the upcoming long›term planning meetings would be a positive step towards investigating the delivery of a transportation service to match the needs of the Clutha community.

He called on attendees to think about how best a transportation service could be operated, while considering options already used elsewhere successfully, such as community vans or a dedicated bus service, similar to that running from Dunedin to Palmerston three times a day.