Queenstown people urged to outline future public transport options

Queenstown’s people – young and old, residents and visitors – are being asked to take a moment this September to help shape the future of the Whakatipu Basin’s public transport options.

Way to Go, a multi-agency collaboration between Otago Regional Council (ORC), Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, is developing a 30-year transport plan known as the Queenstown Public Transport Business Case. Several community drop-in sessions and an online survey will focus on what investment decisions will need to be made over the next 15 years.

ORC’s Manager Transport Lorraine Cheyne says because Queenstown is one of the country’s fastest growing areas, the transport system is constantly facing growth pressures.

“This engagement is really important because it’s looking closely at how best to use buses and ferries and the investment decisions we’ll all need to make over the next 15 plus years,” Ms Cheyne says.

“We need to create a safe and resilient network where public transport, walking and cycling can mesh together as people’s first transport choice to get around easily and conveniently.”

“Queenstown’s current growth is evident with bus use hitting 85% of pre-pandemic levels, from the on-going surge of residents and visitor numbers,” Ms Cheyne says.

The population base per day at peak tourist times is set to almost double from current figures, with up to 204,000 people estimated in 2051, made up of 78,000 residents and 126,000 tourists.

QLDC Transport Strategy Manager and Way to Go Programme Manager Tony Pickard says public transport is a hot topic around the Whakatipu Basin, and that residents and visitors alike are passionate about greater access to buses and ferries.

“The Queenstown Public Transport Business Case will be an important part of ensuring we make the right investment in the right services for the community,” Mr Pickard says.

“Which is why it’s vital as many people as possible find out more about the public transport proposals we’re putting forward and have their say to make sure we’re considering all our current and potential future users when decisions are made.”

Waka Kotahi Regional Manager Richard Osborne stressed the importance of this work and the desire to provide greater transport options for people in Queenstown and its surrounding townships.

Two preferred bus network options

Ms Cheyne says there are two preferred bus network, ferry, and on-demand options as part of the Queenstown Public Transport Business Case, both supporting a functional network, access to workplaces and social destinations, and reduced carbon emissions.

Option 1 is designated “Minimal transfers” and is similar to the current network where many journeys can be accomplished without having to transfer. It has three routes working together to provide frequent service on Frankton Road (SH6A) between central Queenstown and the Frankton Bus Hub.

Option 2 is designated “Town Centre to Jack’s Point” with connections to other routes at the Frankton Bus Hub.

The Queenstown ferry service 

The Business Case proposes to retain the existing ferry service between Steamer Wharf, Frankton Marina, Bayview, and the Hilton Queenstown, but the frequency and span of services could be improved in the future.

Next steps

Community feedback will be considered by the partners in the Way to Go collaboration, and the public will be updated in early 2024.

Opportunities to give feedback

A specialist team of transport planners and advisors from WSP New Zealand and Australia, including public transport and decarbonisation experts, are developing the business case. They will be available to answer any questions about the Business Case and its proposed public transport options at the public drop-in sessions listed below.

Thursday 21 Sept – 10am – 2.30pmFrankton Bus Hub 
Thursday 21 Sept – 4pm – 6pmStanley Street Bus Hub Kiosk 
Saturday 23 Sept – 10am – 2pmArrowtown Community Centre
Saturday 30 Sept – 9am – 2pmQueenstown Market at Steamer Wharf

Orbus have created Facebook Events for all of the drop-in sessions:

Frankton Bus Hub 21 Sept: https://www.facebook.com/events/1073934663770937
Stanley St Bus Hub: https://www.facebook.com/events/713826763907570
Arrowtown Community Centre: https://www.facebook.com/events/328019106455190
Queenstown Market Steamer Wharf: https://www.facebook.com/events/881059840100772

View the current bus and ferry service here: https://www.orc.govt.nz/public-transport/queenstown-buses-and-ferries 

“We encourage both residents and visitors to the Whakatipu Basin to get involved, find out more about what is being proposed for buses and ferries in the area, and help shape the future of public transport that they want to see and use,” says Ms Cheyne.