Frankton, Queenstown is an area that has grown in size dramatically over the last few years. With the growth in population, there have been issues raised that we have not come across before. The main issues are traffic congestion at Frankton roundabout, the lack of cheap public transport and having a hospital that wasn't made for the number of people we now have living in this area.
The biggest problem that affects just about everyone in the Queenstown community is traffic congestion at rush hour. This is an issue that is very hard to avoid as it happens between 3 - 6 pm each day which is the time when schools finish and after school activities start. The Frankton roundabout is the place where all of the main roads, like the ones from Lake Hayes, Arrowtown and Kelvin Heights, meet. This is an issue that really needs looking at as it is getting worse. On a day to day basis at least 22,000 cars go through the BP Frankton roundabout. This is more than twice as much as there used to be. The once quick 10-minute drive from Frankton to Queenstown is now a frustratingly long 1 hour of almost coming to a standstill. This makes residents and visitors very frustrated and often late to where they are going.
Lack of cheap public transport is not helping the issue of traffic congestion. Just to go from Frankton into Queenstown can cost an astonishing $30 taking a taxi and around $5-7 taking the public bus. This cost does not encourage the community or visitors to take public transport as it costs around the same amount as it would for you to drive in yourself. The issue we are having with traffic congestion and lack of cheap public transport could be easily fixed if the prices of public transport were reduced. There would be a lot more public interest and not as many vehicles on the road which would help a lot during rush hour.
Another big issue that we have at the moment is that Queenstown wasn't originally built for the population explosion that we have had. Queenstown has 28,224 residents, not including all the tourists that come and go throughout the year. This is an increase of 5,268 people, or 22.9 per cent, since the 2006 Census. Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown has only 21 beds and since the facility is very small if you are in need of an operation or you have to stay in hospital they will either drive or helicopter you down to Invercargill depending on how bad you are. This is not a quick drive either. It takes, on a good day, around about 2 hours to get to the base hospital in Invercargill. A long-time Queenstown GP and a director of the Wakatipu Medical Center, Val Miller, says she is not surprised by the news as the local population has “exploded” and the hospital is consistently busy.
In conclusion, there is big traffic congestion every day at the Frankton roundabout, a lack of cheap public transport means more cars on roads and Queenstown's sudden population growth has meant the once perfect sized hospital is now too small. We need to find solutions, and soon.
By Alisha Mckinney - Wakatipu High School Year 10 Student