Queenstown’s bus boss is having a “freak-out” over getting drivers for the resort’s $2 bus service.

Ritchies branch manager Nyall Fraser says he needs another 14 drivers and might have to fly some in from the North Island and pay for digs.

“We’re doing a bit of a freak-out here at the moment, to be honest,” he tells The South Today.

The company has about 20 drivers working in the resort at present across eight bus services.

But from November 20, the Otago Regional Council takes control, in partnership with Queenstown’s council and NZ Transport Agency, and Ritchies becomes a contractor.

The new service will feature an expanded network, with new routes and longer operating hours.

“We’re still working through exactly what our staffing ratio needs to be – it isn’t in concrete yet,” Fraser says.

“But we’re thinking it’s going to be in the region of 35 to 40 drivers.”

Finding the staff is difficult.

“We’re having difficulties with Immigration [NZ]. They’re not letting out-of-town people get visas so they can come and work for us. The people applying need sponsorship for their work visa.”

Fraser says not having enough drivers on the day is not an option.

“We’ll just bring them in from another area, fly them in from Whangarei or Auckland or wherever.”

Ritchies will bear the cost of that. “The price is fixed.”

ORC support services boss Gerard Collings earlier told The South Today he’s meeting with managing director Andrew Ritchie at the end of this week.

“They are working very hard to ensure the vacant positions are filled.”