Parting Shot: Council’s brilliant strategy – punish the commuter


Next time the Banff Adventure Film Festival hits town, fingers crossed my own little movie will be screened.

Shooting begins early next year. So stoked.

It’s classic adventure fare really, man against the elements.

It’ll have drama, a few of those all-hope-is-lost moments, the serene and savage beauty of nature, and me, with a soft stare into the mid-distance, musing on the human spirit like Bodhi in Point Break.

“We stand for something to those dead souls inching along the freeways in their metal coffins.”

I say ‘man’ against the elements, it’s actually my whole family – me, wife Jade, The Toddler and The Baby.

The working title’s Commuting in Queenstown.

Picture the scene. It’s 4.30am, pitch black, minus-5 outside.

Jade and I, in time-lapse, standing over The Toddler like two enforcers for a protection racket, convincing her to have breakfast, clean her teeth, get dressed.

Within two hours we’re into the garage. Ignore the car - that’s of no use now.

There’s no parking in Queenstown’s CBD for commuters.

It’s onto the bikes, kids in those trailer thingies. The garage door rises and we pedal out into the dark, breath clouds caught in head torches.

Only 13km to Queenstown - at least it’s flat from Lake Hayes Estate. Easy.

Of course, if we don’t want to cycle more than 30km a day, we could go the other route.

Strap on the chest-cam Go Pros and join the seething mass of humanity attempting to get on a Connectabus, like the last ferry from a Manhattan quarantined due to a zombie outbreak.

This, on the evidence of Queenstown council’s town centre transport strategy, is what commuters have to look forward to.

Getting us out of private cars and onto bikes and buses is one of the principal strategies for dealing with congestion.

I say ‘us’. That’s commuters into town.

The strategy freely admits the number of tourists self-driving will increase because, wait for it, “Tourism NZ has marketed New Zealand as a touring destination and plans to continue doing so”.

So they intend, the strategy says, to feed us carrots and hit us with sticks.

Carrots will be - erm, they’re a little vague about that.

Public showers possibly and somewhere to park our bikes.

The sticks they’ve got sorted though. The removal of all on-street commuter parking, and at the Gardens, and the “progressive increase of council owned off-street carpark charges so that they are comparable to a private carpark”.

Best-case that’ll match Wilson’s carpark on Church Street which has a $5 all-day early-bird rate - so just $25 a week.

Worst case? They’ll go more along Auckland lines of $24 a day - a whopping $120 a week.

A weekly pass for Connectabus is $47 so you’d presume parking would have to be more than $100 a week to discourage a couple from driving into town.

The town centre transport strategy has various other measures mooted.

Discouraging campervans in the town centre, pushing them out to the Boundary St carpark; working with the airport on visitor transport to hotels; and working with Otago Regional Council and public transport firms to improve public transport; and a ‘business case’ for the inner-links bypass.

But a lot of these are pencilled in to achieve, or actually investigate, by 2018. In the short term, though, you can bet the parking changes will be implemented, which is wrong, isn’t it, before there are acceptable alternatives?

Surely it’s up to the NZ Transport Agency and the council to massively improve the road infrastructure instead.

They should sort Frankton roundabout, double-lane Frankton Road, complete the Eastern Access Road, create a transport hub and parking building on the Ballarat St carpark.

Pay for it with a bed tax, or a rental car tax. Otherwise, again it’s locals paying for an increase in tourism while being told they can’t even use the infrastructure any more.