Connexions service may continue

Kayne BaasAll may not be lost for Wanaka-based coach operator Connexions, following confirmation this week a deal is being negotiated to sell its assets to another Wanaka company, enabling the shuttle services to continue to operate.

However, new owners will face increased competition after Queenstown public transport company Connectabus announced yesterday it would be expanding its services into Wanaka next month.

Invercargill Passenger Transport Ltd (IPT) told its staff, in a redundancy letter last week, it planned to close Connexions at the end of this month because it was losing money. IPT took over Connexions when it bought parent company Citibus Ltd from the Dunedin City Council in April.

IPT director Kayne Baas said since news of the closure had become public, IPT had held discussions with about four different groups, mostly from Central Otago, which were interested in taking over the business. He confirmed yesterday a deal was now in the pipeline with one of them.

"We're talking to someone who's looking to take it over and we're negotiating with them at the moment."

He expected a formal announcement to be made in the next couple of days, once a contract was signed which would confirm the continuance of Connexions, but he could not comment on what form the operation would take in the future.

"I believe that the services will continue, but what services I don't know. That would be up to the new owners."

Queenstown bus company Connectabus announced yesterday it would be launching a Queenstown-Wanaka link, particularly targeting people travelling to and from Queenstown Airport, on July 11.

Connectabus marketing manager, Morgan McCammon, said in a press release there was increasing demand from people wanting to travel easily between the resort towns.

The service will start with four trips a day with a driver based in Wanaka. A sightseeing service that will allow people to spend a full day in either town will be added later.

Atomic Shuttles and Intercity already run return services once a day between Queenstown and Wanaka, but neither include pick-ups or drop-offs at Queenstown Airport.