Proposed changes to Wakatipu public transport well received
18 May 2017
Proposed changes to Wakatipu public
transport well received
Significant improvements to public transport in the Wakatipu Basin are one step closer to being rolled out later this year.
Otago regional councillors yesterday approved an amendment to the Otago Regional Public Transport Plan 2014 incorporating the proposed changes, which aim to improve the Wakatipu Basin public transport network by simplifying routes, extending coverage, and increasing service frequency.
A total of 529 public submissions were received on the proposed changes, with 21 submitters presenting to hearings held in Queenstown on Monday. The hearings panel - Crs Gretchen Robertson (chairwoman), Cr Andrew Noone (ORC), and Cr Alexa Forbes (QLDC) - noted there was significant public support for the proposals.
Cr Robertson added: “The quality of submissions was high and the community showed real excitement about the proposed changes.”
The service would be subsidised by the NZ Transport Agency, Queenstown Lakes District Council and ORC; both are currently consulting on this through their Annual Plan processes. The plan allows for a flatter fare structure. The proposed fares will mean the same fare regardless of distance travelled.
Several submitters suggested adding a ferry or water taxi into public transport services. Cr Robertson said this was a creative idea which warranted further investigation; plan boundary maps were amended to allow for water transport to potentially be included in the network the future.
Feedback from the consultation process suggested that the proposed hours of operation should be extended to reflect the unique needs of the Wakatipu community and visitors, in particular those people who work in the hospitality sector or want to enjoy Queenstown's nightlife.
In recognition of this, the need to have flexibility in the hours of operation and to be responsive to demand has been built into the plan as approved. The plan allows for further services and frequency to be added with ease if demand indicated a need and prevented the removal of services without appropriate community consultation.
ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead noted the importance of the council’s partnership with the NZTA and QLDC, and collaboration with Queenstown Airport, on this project.