Queenstown’s downtown boss is blasting the council for turning Camp Street into a bus station to accommodate the new $2 buses.
“It is going to be chaos,” DowntownQT general manager Steve Wilde says.
With the much-anticipated $2 buses hitting the streets this coming Monday, they’ve been allocated four Camp St bus stops as the terminus for the new bus routes.
One stop is directly next to the Village Green, while another is outside ASB bank over the road. A third is the existing stop outside O’Connells mall, with the fourth opposite.
Two stops originally proposed towards Shotover St were pulled in favour of the first two, Wilde says, “to get as many of the buses away from retail stores”.
“Having a bus chugging away beside our Village Green is not ideal, either, but then what’s the alternative?”
Having two million passengers a year milling between Camp St buses “is going to be dangerous”, he predicts.
“You’re going to have hundreds of people on the pavement outside shops.
“Have you ever tried to walk past O’Connells when there are two buses parked there and people waiting?
“There is nowhere on that street that is suitable for buses – if you put it at one end or the other, there are going to be people affected.”
Elaine Lawrence, whose Betty’s Liquor/Bungalow building is by a new bus stop, says: “It probably isn’t a good thing, buses belching diesel fumes, especially with that being the busiest footpath in town.”
Wilde is adamant that the solution is the proposed Stanley St bus interchange.
According to the CBD masterplan, that’s promised after the completion of the CBD arterial via Melbourne and Henry Sts, in six years.
“It looks like the arterial is going to be completed by the end of 2023, but I know there is some serious work going on behind the scenes to bring that forward.”
Meantime, Wilde argues the $2 buses should use the nearby Athol St tourist bus depot.
“If we say that Camp St is going to be a disaster, and I use that word quite deliberately, then they will have to look at Athol St.
“I absolutely refuse to believe that Athol St cannot work.”
Tony Pickard, council’s head infrastructure planner, says Athol St “was discarded from consideration as a public transport hub for reasons such as size, circulation and the need to displace the current services”.
“DowntownQT has asked us to consider it again as a longer-term interim location, which we have agreed to do,” he says.
Meanwhile, a concept design for the new stops suggests there will be passenger barriers on the two Camp St/Ballarat St corners, making it hard to cross Ballarat St and Camp St from the Village Green.
Some kerbing will also be removed to make it easier for buses to turn around the corners.
Pickard, however, says “we are still addressing some … minor engineering details such as kerbing realignments, as we wish to retain the pedestrian crossing points”.