Ritchies boss: ‘Oil slicks licked’

Trail: An oily patch on Fernhill Rd

The operator of Queenstown’s $2 bus service is confident his fleet’s no longer leaking oil after taking one leaky bus off the hilly Fernhill route.

Local Ritchies boss Nyall Fraser says they fielded constant complaints about alleged oil and diesel leaks on Fernhill Road over about two months.

“The original dribble marks were made by one bus we put on that route that doesn’t normally do it.

“It’s got a design fault with the fuel overflow so once that was identified it was taken off the route.”

Local motorcyclist Tony Baker, who uses Fernhill Rd, says oil’s been impregnated into sections of the road, making them “very dangerous, especially when you get a bit of moisture”.

“Even just under 50kmh, or on 50kmh, you feel your back end moving on you.”

The rogue bus left about six oily trails up Fernhill Rd, Fraser says,

“That luckily didn’t dribble enough that it ever ran into the water table”.

However, he insists other complaints his company’s fielded have involved water leaking rather than oil.

In one example, he notes water was overflow from a bus’ airconditioning.

As a result of the complaints, Fraser says Queenstown’s council inspected his fleet and couldn’t detect any leaks.

Then about three weeks ago, he says NZ Transport Agency, without warning, inspected the 20-strong fleet over a day-and-a-half.

“They put them on a hoist, checked them, the same as going through a [certificate of fitness], and we didn’t have one single instance of fuel oil leaks, so I actually feel quite confident we’re doing as much as we can possibly do.

“I’m not saying our buses don’t leak oil – everything’s getting older, and they do develop faults, they all do – but we haven’t had any instance where we’ve gone, ‘bloody hell, we’ve got an oil leak’.

“Yes, it is a hot topic and yes, we should be keeping the area as clean as possible.

“We put a lot of effort into doing it.”