Ferry plan revived

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Queenstown’s council is dusting off a Kelvin Heights ferry proposal as it ponders the town’s traffic woes.

As reported last week, traffic lights are being considered for central Queenstown as part of a draft transport strategy to be considered by councillors next month.

Council boss Adam Feeley says all transport needs to be considered to get Queenstown’s clogged traffic moving again.

“The council’s going to be looking at a resource consent for a ferry to Kelvin Heights – we’re going to revisit that.”

Next week, Feeley and local mayor Vanessa van Uden will attend a high-level transport summit in Dunedin with representatives from New Zealand Transport Agency and Otago Regional Council to discuss Queenstown transport issues.

He says he doesn’t want to push ORC into a corner but there is a “big question” about what it will do for public transport in Queenstown.

“They subsidise Dunedin’s public transport but they don’t subsidise the district. Is that something that’s going to have to change?”

Another question is whether the local Connectabus service can survive as a private enterprise.

The council boss says offering good public transport is just one part of de-clogging streets – the council also has to make it unattractive to bring a car into town.

“If I can drive my car into town, park for $2 a day, why would I pay $4.50 each way for a bus?”

Some of the solutions may not be popular with the public, he warns.

Other bodies realise Queenstown’s issues are urgent.

NZTA transport planning manager Tony Sizemore says it’s time for a fresh look at transport in Queenstown and many different solutions will be needed.

“I think we’re probably at the capacity to absorb traffic and so the growth from here on has to be via different modes of transport.”

ORC’s policy planning and resource management director Fraser McRae says people should be discouraged from using private cars and projects should ideally be in priority areas like public transport, walking and cycling.

Connectabus managing director Ewen McCammon says a myriad of ways would help solve congestion problems, including bus clearways, increased parking charges and park and ride areas.

As to whether ORC should subsidise public transport in Queenstown, he says: “That’s up to them.”

david@scene.co.nz