Lake Wakatipu ferry service cancelled due to lack of funding

There has been a blow to plans to help ease congestion on Queenstown’s roads.

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The start-up had been holding trial services. Source: 1 NEWS

A start-up ferry operator hoping to provide public transport to commuters across Lake Wakatipu is ending its trial service because of a lack of funding.

Road congestion is causing headaches for motorists making their way in and out of Queenstown.

But one solution could be a subsidised ferry service on Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown Ferries, which is run by Wayfare, launched in late 2018, but it is set to end next month because it is not financially sustainable.

“We started up a ferry service to test the demand for that public transport model and it has been pretty successful,” says chief executive Richard Lauder.

“We've had more than 100,000 people take the ferry in the past 12 months and we did that in anticipation that we would get some public support like the buses here. That hasn't come to pass.”

Passengers including David Mayhew who uses the service frequently is petitioning the Otago Regional Council to fund it.

“Any alpine city, which is what Queenstown is destined to become, that has a lake should be used for public transport.”

NZTA figures show the volume of vehicles along State Highway 6a daily has increased from nearly 20,000 in 2014 to over 26,000.

The Transport Agency supports the Otago Regional Council's approach to investigate in the viability of a partly funded ferry service.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is also on board.

“I would like to see a similar system to the current bus system and it is fully integrated,” says councillor Glyn Lewers.

The regional council is looking at what it can do.

“So we have been preparing a business case and looking at long term options for a ferry that's involved us talking to the community, talking with our partners… and in the coming weeks, we will make decisions going forward.”

From there, it is hoped the lake could be part of transport solution for this tourist mecca.