Tourists crowding public transport is a double-edged sword

On Sunday, cruise ship passengers exit a number 28 bus in Lyttelton.


On Sunday, cruise ship passengers exit a number 28 bus in Lyttelton.

After years of longing for their tourist dollarKiwis look sideways at cruise ship passengers crowding public buses.

In Christchurch and Dunedin, the almost twice-weekly docking of tourists is straining public transport services, but their respective regional councils have yet to find enough staff to resolve the delays.

In the case of Canterbury, its regional council does not expect to increase the frequency of services until 2023.

In the meantime, tourists – which injected $547 million into the country during the 2019-2020 cruise season – are asked to pay around $50 for a private trip where locals pay less than $3.

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On Wednesday, Christchurch Councilor Sara Templeton shared bus number 28 – between Lyttelton and the city – with around 51 other people.

Like someone who had avoided Covid-19 until now, she was concerned about the lack of ventilation and the use of masks, she said.

During the weekend, the Guardian reported that the Majestic Princess, which docked in Lyttelton on November 5, ended its two-week tour of New Zealand with 800 cases of Covid-19.

Templeton said he heard residents choose not to travel by bus last week due to overcrowding.

A bus with around 52 passengers, many unmasked cruise tourists, in Christchurch on November 9.

Sara Templeton/Supplied

A bus with around 52 passengers, many unmasked cruise tourists, in Christchurch on November 9.

While bus usage was excellent, “we need to make sure the sudden rush of users doesn’t displace locals,” she said.

She understood the regional council was working on increasing the frequency of services, but felt cruise ship operators should provide cheaper private transport in the meantime.

Blue Star Taxis, which told Things this was the ships’ preferred service, offered a capped rate of $45 for tourists traveling to the city, then $90 per hour of travel.

The same trip within the city cost $2.10 under the current government subsidy for public buses.


The Ovation of the Seas arrives in Port Chalmers, Dunedin.

It’s a problem Kevin Taylor, a resident near Otago’s Port Chalmers, said “it should come as no surprise to anyone.”

“It doesn’t take much for a tourist with a mobile phone to discover the [local] the price is cheaper. »

He said the Otago Regional Council knew this was a problem before Covid-19, and in his view it was up to them to fix it. He had seen pictures of queues at the Dunedin Bus Center before and heard of locals struggling to get home from school and work.

“There is a sense of manaakitanga, or hospitality, which has to be weighed against the disruption of schoolchildren and workers,” he said.

The Otago and Canterbury regional councils had struggled to maintain services amid staff shortages.

In response to this and strike threatsthe two councils have recently driver salary increase to $28the minimum required by Immigration New Zealand to recruit overseas.

Environmental Canterbury, Canterbury Regional Council, has secured funding to increase the frequency of services along Highway 28 in June, but would not be active until 2023.

Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association, said Christchurch and Dunedin could be unique in their respective councils not providing the bulk of transport options for tourists.

O’Sullivan said ground transportation was handled differently depending on the cruise line, and similarly the cost of private transportation varied too much to put a figure on.

“This [public transport] is public after all. Sometimes this has impacted local services, but that doesn’t really seem to be an issue lately.

He said cruise passengers are often “on the trip of a lifetime” – ordinary people who had saved up for the trip and would probably opt for the bargains where they could.

“We wanted them [cruise ships] been back for so long and worked so hard to make it happen…we’re happy with how things turned out.

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