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Queenstown’s Ongoing Traffic Constipation

July 13 2020

I doubt there is a person in Queenstown who hasn’t noted the crazy traffic congestion, and at the same time acknowledged that we can’t blame tourists for the current levels of constipation. (Similarly, we also can’t blame tourists for the bad driving that seems to still be present?) It is beyond clear that there needs to be a larger-community level discussion taking place about the best way to resolve the traffic issues, and it staggers me that such conversation does not appear to be on any agenda or forum at any community level. Perhaps it is, and I have simply not spotted it? Acknowledging four key things as true; (a) that the pace of solution appears glacial at best; (b) costs of solution do not get cheaper with the benefit of time, and (c) there will be much opposition from vested interest groups for every solution, this means that any resolve is likely at best to be decades away, and lastly (d) that the problem will not get better by itself.

The current strategy, if there is one; appears to merely kick the can further down the proverbial road (pun not intended)... and apply band aid solutions of more traffic lights or shifting roads, yet without actually addressing the painfully obvious point that some places and roads cannot cope with today’s volumes of vehicles, never mind the future volumes, including the currently absent tourist buses and rental cars. Yes, we can make the CBD hostile to cars, and carparking more expensive... but we also and absolutely need to talk about vehicle alternatives. If the answer is a rocket ship from Frankton to Queenstown, or a teleporter, or a monorail, or a gondola... then get the discussion on the table... and keep it there. The city and transit already own key land corridors of the Frankton trail and/or the center of the Frankton road; both very capable of carrying columns supporting an aerial system of some sort, and both predictably likely to cause uproar by affected owners. Well, the consequence of not cheesing off these affected owners is to instead cheese off the majority of all other residents and commuters losing time and patience in the continual snarl of traffic on even the shortest trip involving a vehicle, including that of a subsidised bus who also gets caught in the same traffic. We acknowledge that these discussions will take time to work through the process, but this matter should be on every agenda from here until resolution is found... and if that’s a decade away, so be it… but for Queenstown’s sake... please begin. It won’t get cheaper. The next few years of recovery are a gift to planners here, where we got a glimpse of the future… and most of us didn’t like what we saw.

David Wills

Response from QLDC

“QLDC always encourages environmentally friendly and practical ways to travel within our district. In this sense, we support the use of the district’s free buses and encourage participation in our various ridesharing programmes.
“However, safety is paramount. The bottom of Coronet Peak Road is often busy and congested, and having cars parking along it poses a safety risk. This is why, on stretches of road in the area, signage prohibits parking. We encourage people to travel – and park – safely when visiting Coronet Peak.”