Ruapehu District Council with partner agencies and stakeholders are in the second year of a three year pilot programme to improve public transport within the Tongariro National Park (TNP).

Partner agencies include the Department of Conservation, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, Horizons Regional Council, New Zealand Transport Agency and transport providers.

The pilot, called the Tongariro National Park Integrated Public Transport System, aims to help manage the growth in visitor numbers and reduce congestion, accident, environmental, cultural and social impacts while improving visitor experience.

Ruapehu Land Transport manager Warren Furner said developments such as the new Whakapapa gondola which is scheduled to open later this year and is anticipated to bring an additional 300,000 visitors into the TNP is providing an added impetus to the pilot.


"Toward the end of the trial in 2021 the findings will form the basis of recommendations for future public transport options and investments," he said.

"Last year was the first year of the pilot and established new services and routes.

"While the first year of the trial raised concerns from the existing private transport providers as to disruption to their historic business model it did clearly show that improved coordination of operations by, and between operators, could deliver improved levels of service."

Furner said there have been some tweaks to the bus routes aimed at avoiding Central Business District congestion while still allowing local businesses to benefit from morning and apres ski snow shuttle customers.

"At Whakapapa the objective is to provide additional car parking with a public transport timetable to encourage transport efficiency and reduce informal parking demand.

"At this stage, the provision of any new parking is dependent on gaining planning approvals."

In National Park Village a new bus route and timetable for 2019 is aimed at encouraging transport efficiency and reducing on-street parking demand.

The remaining years of the pilot will see the ongoing improvement of parking facilities and greater use of technology to provide real-time information for booking services.


"The details and timing around the implementation of the planned actions for the remaining years of the pilot are still being confirmed."

Furner said this is expected shortly and once confirmed a communications company will be contracted to ensure all stakeholders are fully informed of the plan.