Cab call on $2 buses

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A Queenstown cab firm’s making an 11th-hour bid to shake up the $2 bus plan.

Queenstown Taxis boss Grant Scannell wants talks with Otago Regional Council and Queenstown’s council about cabs covering part of the route.

“We see we could offer a service. We have 27 vans in our fleet which can take 11 people.

“So why have we not been approached to see if we could match it?

“I’ve done some calculations and we could almost match the $2 per person rate from CBD to Fernhill, without a subsidy.”

Scannell says drivers are concerned about the impact of $2 buses.

The cheap fares will be offset by $1.38 million from ratepayers. NZ Transport Agency will stump up a similar amount.

Scannell doesn’t see why bus companies get preferential treatment.

“We’re public transport just like them.”

ORC could adopt the amendment to its regional transport plan as early as next Wednesday.

It proposes four routes on coordinated timetables – Fernhill to Queenstown Airport, Arrowtown to Arthurs Point (through Queenstown), Five Mile to Kelvin Heights, and Lake Hayes Estate to Jack’s Point.

The plan is you pay $2 to go anywhere.

ORC support services boss Gerard Collings says it’s contractually obliged to negotiate half the network with current provider Ritchies.

That includes the Fernhill and Lake Hayes routes.

The other half is up for grabs.

Collings says: “It doesn’t allow for further subdivision … so [Scannell] would have to enter into an arrangement with someone.”

He says it’s inappropriate ahead of the tender process to comment on the idea of cabs replacing buses in places.

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says ideas should be addressed to ORC.

Resort taxi firm, Green Cabs, didn’t want to comment.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz