Cruise ship passenger impact on public transport

Ratepayers are bearing the financial burden of transporting cruise ship passengers from the Port of Lyttelton into central Christchurch.

Environment Canterbury Chair Peter Scott said that although Canterbury had enjoyed a busy cruise ship season, with more than 70 cruise ships returning to the Port of Lyttelton in the past 12 months, it had come at a cost to the community.

"We have enjoyed hosting these visitors and showcasing our region, and there is no doubt that there are economic benefits to Canterbury in having them here.

"However, the increased pressure they put on our public transport system has come at a cost to ratepayers and to bus passengers who were frequently delayed on cruise ship days."

Scott said it wasn't just school pupils and commuters who were affected by overcrowded or late services, accommodating the extra commuter traffic also hit the regional council's back pocket.

"We were required to make several costly and reactive changes to our bus services to manage cruise ship passenger demand this season.

"We’re anticipating cruise ship passenger numbers to increase by a further 30 per cent next season and estimate that it could cost us an additional $500,000, at a minimum, to accommodate them."

Scott recently wrote to the Minister of Transport, Minister for Economic Development, Minister of Tourism as well as the New Zealand Cruise Association and other stakeholders, inviting them to meet with Councillors next month to discuss the issue.

"As a regional council, we recognise that we have a role to play – but we don't think the status quo is equitable for our ratepayers and bus users.

"We are looking to collaboratively develop a solution that works for us and our ratepayers, cruise ship companies and passengers, and the Government."