Water taxi firm seeks subsidy

Queenstown Water Taxis' new, custom-built 36-seat boat pictured on Lake Wakatipu. The company is working with the Otago Regional and Queenstown Lakes District councils to get a transportation subsidy. Photo: Supplied
Queenstown Water Taxis' new, custom-built 36-seat boat pictured on Lake Wakatipu. The company is working with the Otago Regional and Queenstown Lakes District councils to get a transportation subsidy. Photo: Supplied
A Queenstown business is hoping to get a subsidy from local government bodies to reduce the cost of transporting commuters on Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown Water Taxis sales and marketing manager Haley Kelly said it was working with the Otago Regional and Queenstown Lakes District Councils to obtain a subsidy and get consents for new jetties to expand its operation, but that might take some months.

In the interim, it is launching concession cards on Monday to ''make it a little bit cheaper'' for residents - 10 rides for $80, which is a $20 discount, or six rides for $50.

''Because of the costs of running the boats, that's all we can afford at the moment.

''We've been put on the backburner subsidy-wise with the new bus service, but hopefully that'll happen next year.

''The concession cards are a temporary fix - it's not the most amazing offer, but it's something.''

ORC transport manager Gerard Collings said there was an independent business case process to go through in terms of a subsidy.

''We're sending out a brief to consultants.

''It'll look at the desirability of a ferry service as a public transport option.''

Mr Collings said the existing service would be considered and the process would involve discussions with all parties.

Along with the concession card, QWT is also introducing an early morning ferry service as an alternative transport option for residents around the lake.

The first of two increases to car-parking fees came into force on Monday, coinciding with the introduction of $2 buses across the Wakatipu.

From Monday, the morning ferry would leave Queenstown Bay at 8am and the Frankton area at 8.30am, Miss Kelly said.

If there was enough demand, the company would put on another service leaving Frankton at 8am.

The company launched a new, custom-made 36-seat boat in October, designed specifically for Lake Wakatipu.

QWT had also just become a Google Transit Partner and was expected to launch on the NZ Transport Agency's Choice app by the middle of this month, meaning that boats could be live-tracked, Miss Kelly said.

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