Ticketing wars continue; tour driver pays out of own pocket for doing his job

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 11, 2024

Queenstown tour bus driver Harry Guitry reckons the two $60 fines dished out for his parking in a bus zone on Camp Street were "one step too far".

Mr Guitry is behind the wheel of the Hop on Hop off Wine Tours and says he understands ticketing is an "important tool against people breaking the law"; but, in his case, there wasn't another option when he twice parked up behind other buses already in the zone. 

He's decided to go public with the two tickets he received in March after recent reporting of other ticketing misfortunes - including a delivery driver pinged at the same spot on Camp Street.

But the point of difference is the delivery driver was pinged for having his wheels inside the Camp Street bus zone, while Mr Guitry was fined for parking outside of it.

"Ninety-nine percent" of the tour buses in Queenstown wait on Camp Street, and the spot gets "congested", with some buses sitting there for half an hour, Mr Guitry says.

A photo provided to Harry Guitry when applying to waive his March 24, 2024 infringement.

Mr Guitry says he didn't have a choice but to pull up behind when picking up his passengers, and his manoeuvre wasn't obstructing the road.

He applied to get the fines waived, but since the company has a policy of paying bills as soon as they come in, the council staff were unwilling to administer refunds for fines already paid.

The company and Mr Guitry went halves on the cost.

Tour bus driver Harry Guitry (supplied).

Hop on Hop off Wine Tours business owner Juliearna Kavanagh agrees the tickets seem to be a bit harsh in this economic environment. 

The fines have dampened the spirits of Mr Guitry, who took the job as a fun retirement activity and drives through the gorge for tours from his home in Cromwell.

Queenstown councillor Gavin Bartlett says he's noticed a seeming increase in reports of alleged unfair ticketing in Queenstown. 

He says that the parking restrictions that are in place are intended to prevent vehicles from blocking thoroughfares and maintain a turnover of available parking spaces, and he expects parking enforcement to be carried out to achieve these principals.

"But with the understanding that discretion can be exercised as appropriate."

He suggests anyone who feels that a ticket has been issued unfairly should apply for a waiver of the fine. 

Councillor Bartlett says that he is going to follow up on the draft parking strategy, which was consulted on earlier in the year.  

He says the aim of the strategy was to create guidelines for how parking will be managed.

Main image: Photo provided to Harry Guitry when applying to waive his March 13, 2024 infringement.

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