The Bus and Coach Association has stepped in to ease tensions over coach parking in Queenstown.
The association is leasing land in Industrial Place for the next two months, taking the heat out of a dispute between drivers and Queenstown’s council over who is responsible for providing adequate overnight coach parking in the resort.
Drivers welcome the move but claim there is still a shortage of parks during the peak tourist season, and want the council to find a long-term fix.
The association’s intervention comes after drivers’ spokesman Rod Griffiths, of Christchurch, threatened to bring the central business district to a standstill with a mass blockade of key roads.
Downtown Queenstown town centre manager Steve Wilde, who is mediating in the dispute, said the leased land will fit about 30 coaches. The council has produced a leaflet for drivers that showed all approved overnight parks in the resort.
“We’ve taken it as far as we can go at this point,” Wilde said. “If any bus driver is arriving in this town and says there isn’t a park, he’s blind.”
A meeting between council, association and hotel representatives will be held to discuss a long-term answer.
Griffiths said drivers appreciate the association’s move to provide more parking, but it’s only a gesture.
“It will alleviate the problem, but it won’t solve it. It’s short-term, and it’s not enough.”
He lays blame for the situation on the council’s planning department, which for the past 15 years has consented hotel developments without requiring adequate coach parking.
Council regulatory boss Lee Webster said overnight parking appears to be the “last straw” in driver frustration. The council’s Boundary Road car park, which has 20 spaces for coaches, is “fairly empty every night”, he said.
The council’s new bus parking leaflet shows 42 spaces for overnight coach parking between 7pm and 8am or longer. Its 2007 leaflet had 40 spaces.
Griffiths said spaces in the council’s Boundary Rd car park are poorly laid out, which means there is room for only about eight coaches, not 20.
Webster said the district plan requires hotels to provide coach parking based on a formula relating to their size.
“Our compliance staff will be reviewing consents that have been issued over the years and working with hotels to see whether the number of on-site bus parks matches the consent conditions.”