Commuters’ parking pickle

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All-day parking might soon be banned from almost all central Queenstown.

Queenstown’s council wants to force people out of their cars and onto public transport to solve congestion woes.

It reckons one of the best ways of achieving that is to turf people out of long-term leases at council-owned carparks in Church Street, Ballarat St and the Recreation Ground.

According to a draft transport strategy released this week, all-day commuter parking might be banned over a vast swathe of central Queenstown - in an area bordered by Park St, Marine Parade and Hallenstein St.

More than 500 all-day parks will be lost.

Residents will be issued with parking coupons, but commuters who want to park for longer than three hours on the town’s fringe will need to buy coupons.

The council’s careful to say the drastic parking changes - cooked up with the Otago Regional Council and New Zealand Transport Agency - will be paired with improvements to public transport.

But business people are already kicking off.

Lawyer Alan Harper, who leases a Ballarat St park, says: “That’s ridiculous.”

Harper needs a park near his office because he’s out and about most days.

“I guess I’m going to have to park in Man St [carpark] because there’s no other option.”

Another Ballarat St park lessee, realtor Garry Pankhurst, says: “I’m horrified. If those parks aren’t available via a lease, where are people like us supposed to park near to town?”

Accountant Donald Bennett leases a Church St carpark.

He says: “I can’t see how us having a carpark makes a lot of congestion on the roads - we’re there well and truly in the morning before they’re congested so I don’t believe we’re contributing to any congestion in the mornings.

“At night, if you leave at 5 o’clock you will be caught up in the congestion but there’s not a lot of it.”

He reckons scrapping long-term leases will make little difference to congestion.

“I think [the council is] trying to put their finger in the dyke.”

The strategy says the worst congestion happens during peak tourist season. That’s right now - the summer peak –
and in the winter ski months, when rental vehicles dominate our roads.

Yet it’s the Queenstown worker who might suffer.

An estimated 2700 people drive to or through central Queenstown to get to work each day.

Council boss Adam Feeley says “firm nudges” - such as higher parking charges, but also more regular and cheaper buses - will ease periodic gridlock.

“The council is not the creator of this problem nor ultimately the solution - the solution comes from people,” he
says.

“Behaviour has to change and you can’t point the finger at the council on this.”

The transport strategy has a few tangible proposals - such as a proposed Frankton Arm ferry service and Installing lock-up bike parks - but is light on detail.

It was discussed at yesterday’s council meeting.

ed@scene.co.nz