Think-tank’s transport treatise

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A congestion charge and a visitor levy are two potential funding sources to address Queenstown’s ”woeful traffic issues”, a new Queenstown traffic report says.

The draft report, prepared by Shaping Our Future, was based on information from a community forum held in May last year.

A task force of local business and community volunteers had since developed a long-term vision for transport and some ”strong” recommendations.

At the centre of that was the formation of a cross-agency transport governance group to put ”robust, district-wide, long-term planning and funding solutions” together.

The council-led entity would comprise representatives from the council, New Zealand Transport Agency and Otago Regional Council, to oversee the planning, funding and implementation of future improvements to the district’s transport system.

”The transport entity is designed to cut through the various bureaucracies to ensure timely action towards the vision outlined.”

It would work with other key stakeholders, including the Queenstown Trails Trust, Queenstown Airport Corporation, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Education, regional tourism offices and chambers of commerce.

The draft report said Queenstown Lakes was a unique district. The daily population of visitors exceeded the resident population of 30,000 by 60 per cent – 48,000 people – on average and 215 per cent (94,500) at peak periods.

The topography meant the ability to extend or expand present road corridors was limited and the ratepayer base was inadequate to maintain or extend/expand key infrastructure.

”The Queenstown Lakes District Council expects [the] total resident population to reach approximately 150,000 by 2045. Planning must start now on developing an integrated multi-modal approach to transport solutions.”

The report proposed several options for funding, including central government, but excluding ratepayers.

Shaping Our Future transport task force chairman Guy Hughes could not be reached for further comment yesterday afternoon, but it is understood any proposed congestion charge could work in a similar way to that introduced in London in 2003.

Under that scheme, a fee is charged on most vehicles operating within the ”congestion zone” in central London between 7am and 6pm Monday through Friday.

The charge is waived on weekends, public holidays or between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive.

Mr Hughes said, in a statement, the issues facing residents and visitors to the district had been well publicised and while progress has been made in the past 18 months, ”there is a lot more to do”.

”Our goal was to look long term – 30-plus years – and think about what we need to do to make sure Queenstown remains a great place to live and visit.

”Our proposed transport entity takes collaboration to the next level and puts in place governance, funding and accountability.

”It’s about being proactive rather than reactive.

”There are some great examples of how a group like this can work by removing inter-agency barriers and making sure everyone is working on the same goals,” Mr Hughes said.

The task force will share its findings at a public meeting in the Queenstown Memorial Centre on November 7, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

To RSVP email executive@shapingourfuture.org.nz, or phone 021 222-1231.

  • Otago Daily Times