Operator: It's OK on the buses

Ewen McCammon
Ewen McCammon
Wakatipu residents and tourists "need to decide whether they want a bus service or a taxi service", Connectabus managing director Ewen McCammon says in response to fierce public criticism of his company's services in Queenstown.

In Friday's Queenstown Times, readers criticised the Connectabus services for being too slow and expensive.

Mr McCammon said the criticisms came from a small proportion of Connectabus passengers.

"Connectabus has a really skilful team and we are trying super hard.

"As demand increases, as is shown with the growing numbers, the services will only get more frequent," he said.

More than 2000 people travelled with Connectabus on Friday and 320 people used the recently introduced seven-day unlimited pass, he said.

"People need to put action where their mouths are and start using the buses, which are in place at a very low price.

"We need people to use the bus more in those satellite areas for the trial period," he said.

In July last year, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) contracted Connectabus to provide new subsidised trial services to Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point, Lake Hayes Estate and Quail Rise Estate.

ORC manager support services Gerard Collings said the new Connectabus services were subsidised through ratepayer funding and from the regional council's government funding, but Connectabus still had to make money to cover the remaining costs.

"Our overall target with the new services is to get them on a commercial footing, so they can stand alone at the end of the 32-month trial period."

Mr McCammon said claims the service was too expensive were not valid, as the prices followed national standards and were lower than for services in Wellington.

"We're a business which has been running for 18 years; we work with people to try and help businesses, and help everybody.

"We moved the five-day pass to a seven-day pass because people asked, and it's working."

Mr McCammon dismissed calls to extend services in Arrowtown and to add a stop at Remarkables Park Town Centre for Kelvin Heights services.

Most Arrowtown passengers only had to walk 400m to catch a bus, and adding an additional stop might help one person but would slow the rest down, he said.

In response to criticism of the Frankton hub for connecting bus services, he said the hub was in place so people could travel direct to anywhere on the network, with a change "that only takes minutes".

"The way it works in the centre is for a bus to come through every 15 minutes.

"Without the hub, you would have buses everywhere, and two and a-half times more buses in the town centre."


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