Ferry could ease Queenstown congestion

Neville Kelly
Neville Kelly
A scaled-up lake ferry service could ease congestion on Frankton Rd and downtown parking hassles, Sir Eion Edgar says.

The Queenstown businessman and philanthropist said the right infrastructure and a change in residents' mind set could alleviate the resort's transport woes.

He was invited on the maiden trip this week of Queenstown Water Taxis' new 11 metre, twin engine Naiad vessel, which is replacing two smaller boats on the company's Queenstown Bay Kelvin Heights Hilton Hotel service.

A regular user of the service, Sir Eion said if passenger numbers could be ramped up, Queenstown could benefit from the economies of scale achieved by harbour ferry services in Auckland and major Australian cities.

Eion Edgar
Eion Edgar
''I've always been disappointed that we haven't utilised our wonderful lake more for transport. It's all about volume - if it was on a more regular basis, they could sell concession cards and bring the price down.

But achieving that vision would require council assistance, he said. It could provide infrastructure such as a large car park and jetty on Frankton beach, and possibly subsidise the service until it reached a specified volume.

The public investment could be justified by the resulting easing of traffic on Frankton Rd and downtown car parking.

Queenstown Water Taxis director Neville Kelly runs the lake's only regular commuter service.

He said a subsidy from Queenstown's council or the Otago Regional Council would help achieve the economies of scale Sir Eion referred to.

He was considering offering free trips for a week to gauge community interest in an expanded commuter service.

''The lake's there to be used, and not enough people are using it.

''That's what I want to get up and running in and out of Queenstown, so that it's a viable business but good for the community.''

A draft transport strategy for Queenstown released in February states that between 7am and 11am, more than 5000 cars enter the town centre, and about 1000 cars park all day in the town centre and periphery.


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