Queenstowners are urged to use new bus routes more often or risk them being scrapped.
Services to Lake Hayes Estate, Quail Rise, Kelvin Heights and Arthurs Point were introduced in July.
But many of the 23-seater coaches are running almost empty – and Connectabus boss Ewen McCammon wants more residents to get on board.
“People are starting to use it, but we need a lot more to use it,” McCammon says.
The feeder services are on a 32-month trial, with the Otago Regional Council and New Zealand Transport Agency pumping in $3.2 million during that period.
ORC support services manager Gerard Collings says people have been slow to use the new public transport, with Lake Hayes Estate buses in particular emptier than anticipated.
“The reality is we need people to get on and use the buses – it is only a 32-month trial,” he says.
Catching the bus costs $7 one way for the 6km ride from Arthurs Point to Queenstown, if not using the
discounted electronic ticketing system GoCard.
However, as more local people use the service, fares will get cheaper, McCammon claims.
“We’ve got systems for local people like five-day passes [$35 for unlimited travel] and we are looking at putting a monthly pass in place as well,” he says.
Sunshine Bay resident Jason Medina says he tried to support the local service – using it a few times a week – but ditched it after being left waiting at the bus stop too often.
He claims he also had to catch a taxi one morning when the bus was more than 20 minutes overdue.
“I can’t trust it when I have to be at work at 8am,” the assistant marketing manager for local eatery Post Office Cafe says. McCammon concedes from time to time the buses do run late.
“We do try to keep it on time but sometimes when the traffic banks up downtown – with one person driving a car – we can’t get around and it doesn’t matter what we do, we can’t fix that.”
McCammon also says torrential rain disrupted services one morning and apologises for that.
“We’re endeavouring to give a totally professional service to Queenstown,” McCammon adds.