Bus stop loading zones will take too long, no point: QLDC councillor

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 14, 2023

Buses will be back to full services faster than the wheels of bureaucracy can turn to get pick-up zones sorted for Good Samaritan drivers to help out stranded passengers.

The idea of adding temporary loading zones close to Queenstown bus stops to allow locals to spot and pick up would-be bus commuters without copping fines has been floated by the council.

Councillor Gavin Bartlett says in the time it takes for loading zones to be implemented, the full bus timetable will be back.

Queenstown Lakes District councillor and chair of the council's infrastructure committee Gavin Bartlett says there's been emails back and forth between councillors and council staff on the idea.

But with the full timetable set to come back in June, Councillor Bartlett says it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

“It is being talked about and considered, but there's no resolution to make that happen at this stage on the basis that by the time that it would take to achieve that might be overtaken by the increase in the bus service anyway.”

A bunch of additional loading zones may "cause more problems" when the service comes "back up to full speed", he says.

The new transport committee is set to meet for the first time this year next week, and any plan to adjust bus stop parking by-laws would need to come to these decision makers.

Earlier this month, Crux interviewed Queenstown local Kaari Schlebach, who'd lost track of the number of times she'd picked up people "stranded" at bus stops in the recent months - feeling like it was her duty to step in for the failing bus system.

Ms Schlebach didn't know it was illegal to stop at a bus stop and copped a $40 fine, which the QLDC wouldn't let her off the hook for when she contested it.

Councillor Niki Gladding thinks a wider conversation should be opened around permanent loading zones at bus stops.

Investigating the benefits and the costs of loading zones would be beneficial, Councillor Gladding says, as loading zones could make using the busses more accessible for certain demographics in the community.

Councillor Niki Gladding thinks it's worth stating a conversation about making it easier for to drop people off and pick people up from bus stops.

"What if they can't walk the distance to the bus stop or can't bike – or for older people that might need to be dropped off."

It’d also be handy in wet weather conditions or if there are issues with busses in the future, she says.

“I think it's worth thinking about the bigger picture. Some stops won't warrant it and might not need it, depending on where they are. But people should be able to stop safely to drop off and pick up.”

She understands it’s a “very constrained fiscal environment” but thinks the community should be consulted on whether this is something they’d like to see and would use.

Councillor Gladding tried to get the ball rolling on this last week, asking the QLDC on Wednesday, February 8 about the option to conduct community consultation on the idea.

She’s yet to receive a reply, but is following up with them again, she says.

Crux has asked the council for details of how many tickets have been issued in recent months for bus stop parking infringements. No response had been received by time of publication.

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