Boult promises dramatic shift

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Queenstown mayor Jim Boult’s opened his Santa sack to promise two park-and-ride services for the resort.

Boult and Queenstown Airport yesterday announced a new service between Brookes Road, Frankton Flats, and the airport by April – aimed at combating congestion.

And he tells Mountain Scene there’ll also be one into town for commuters.

“That goes without saying – it’s going to happen,” he says.

“In conjunction with a revamped public transport system there will be a park-and-ride.”

He’s not sure on timing – it depends on work on the roading network in Frankton.

“There’s no point putting in a big park-and-ride area and finding it needs to be shifted at a later date.

“But it will come. We intend to change the system quite dramatically.”

Plans for a park-and-ride trial were dropped in a closed-council meeting in early October before Boult took office.

Former mayor Vanessa van Uden said it was too complex. Unsubsidised operator Ritchies runs its services on a similar route to the one proposed.

Funding will come from ratepayers, until a visitor levy is in place.

Boult’s also pushing Otago Regional Council on a complete revamp of Queenstown’s public transport system.

He says some of the current fares, charged by operator Ritchies, are “ridiculous” compared to parking charges, and need to change.

Boult and his councillors are pushing for a simple single fare structure, affordability, increased frequency, and better reliability.

He expects an announcement within six months.

Queenstown’s traffic congestion has significantly worsened in recent years, particularly around the BP roundabout in Frankton.

New retail developments, such as Five Mile in Frankton, new residential suburbs such as Shotover Country, and a huge tourism boom have all contributed.

The airport park-and-ride, with parking at Brookes Rd, behind Mitre 10 Mega, is expected to open in March or April – one of four major projects due for completion in 2017.

Queenstown Airport boss Colin Keel says it’s aimed at those parking for three days or more.

An upgrade for Frankton’s bottleneck BP roundabout will begin after the busy summer period.

Boult says he has assurances from the NZ Transport Agency it will stop cars being parked along the side of Kawarau Road which resembles a “used car lot”.

That news has been welcomed by local MP Todd Barclay, who launched a petition on the parking and has been a flea in the ear of Transport Minister Simon Bridges about congestion.

Both Boult and Barclay also want four lanes on Kawarau Road, the road from BP towards Remarkables Park and Kawarau Falls bridge.

Boult says he’s managed to convince the minister and agency to bring forward the date from 2020 – preliminary design work is due with council by March.

“[In the meantime] we will be working with NZTA to remove all those cars as soon as the [airport] park-and-ride is operational.”

Construction’s underway on both the new $22 million Kawarau Falls bridge and the $20m eastern access road.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz