No fare hikes promise

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The looming loss of a $1.2 million council subsidy won’t hit Queenstown bus comuters, Connect­abus’ boss says. 

Ewen McCammon (right), owner of the Wakatipu-wide bus network, pledges not to jack up prices nor chop loss-making routes when Otago Regional Council’s annual subsidies expire. 

“There won’t be any fare rises. And no, routes won’t be dropped,” McCammon says. 

The council has heavily subsidised a 32-month trial of Connectabus services to Kelvin Heights, Quail Rise, Arthurs Point, Glenda Drive, and Lake Hayes Estate. 

The Arthurs Point subsidy of almost $400,000 disappears in September. Those on other routes end in February. 

McCammon’s approach is to wear any future losses on previously-subsidised routes. 

“The Arthurs Point service isn’t up to break even yet but we’ll get it there over the next couple of years,” he says. 

Loss-making services can be carried by profitable Connectabus routes, he adds. 

Off-peak services on some routes may be scaled down, McCammon admits, but otherwise it’s a case of plugging away at building patronage. 

“Everything we do, we’re doing for the future,” he says. 

“We just want to get more people using our services.” 

The statistics say they are. 

The regional council reports Connectabus passenger numbers for the Wakatipu network – unsubsidised as well as subsidised routes – are up 20 per cent to 620,000 in the year to June 30.