Biz lobby in free bus push

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A Queenstown business lobby is pushing for fully-subsidised buses between Lake Hayes Estate and Fernhill.

DowntownQT believes free public transport will clear up chronic traffic congestion in the resort and help the CBD become more pedestrian-friendly.

The business group also wants a transport hub, initially for buses, on the downtown Ballarat Street carpark, and construction of the long-planned CBD bypass along Melbourne and Henry Streets.

DowntownQT manager Steve Wilde says they’re proposing free buses run every 15 minutes from 6am till the last bars close.

The circuit would also take in Queenstown Airport and Remarkables Park.

Wilde – who hasn’t costed the plan – suggests funding could be split 50/50 between Queenstown council and Otago Regional Council ratepayers.

“A fully-subsidised bus link between Fernhill and Lake Hayes Estate is going to take hundreds of cars off the street.

“People will use the bus if it doesn’t cost them anything, and it comes within 400 metres of their house, every 15 minutes.

“At the moment it’s cheaper for you to take your car to work.”

Wilde – who says his group’s proposals were honed during board and members’ meetings this week – says he’s glad the outgoing council pulled the plug on its park-and-ride trial.

“It doesn’t make sense to us to have a park-and-ride in Frankton where people drive from Lake Hayes Estate for two minutes, park there and get on a bus.”

Wilde says DowntownQT’s ultimate aim is a more pedestrian-friendly CBD.

“It means that traffic is removed from the equation, as we might see in the centre of town, or people are moving through traffic but the traffic always gives way and is slow.”

to discuss his group’s proposals with the new council and help with its upcoming 10-year long-term plan.

He adds that the resort’s existing bus operator, Connectabus, would run the free service as it holds the licence from the regional council.

Connectabus manager Nyall Fraser says he applauds what DowntownQT is trying to achieve – “it’s an ideal which I fully support as a local”.

However he says the amount of money ratepayers would have to stump up is huge.

“I don’t think it is sustainable without government money.”

scoop@scene.co.nz

Park and sshhhhh

Queenstown Airport is staying tightlipped over its park and ride shuttle service trial.

It’s advertised for suitable companies to help with the scheme, submissions close on Friday next week.

Airport operations boss Dan Parsons says in an emailed statement: “If established (initially on a trial basis), the offering would provide a genuine long-term car parking alternative.”

The shuttles would run from Grant Rd to the airport terminal.

This news of an airport trial comes just two weeks after the council canned its park and ride idea. – MANDY COOPER