Budget travellers could be forced to dig deeper after a popular bus service offering fares as cheap as $1 stops operating to and from Northland in the next few weeks.
Mana and Naked Buses announced this week it would cease its bus operations throughout the North Island from July 15 to focus more exclusively on the company's ferry services.
The companies are part of InMotion Group, which also operates Fullers, 360 Discovery, Roam Experiences and Waiheke Bus Company.
A spokeswoman for Mana said ManaBus and Naked Bus fleets had been sold to Ritchies Transport Holdings as part of the decision to exit the market. Customers who bought tickets in advance have already been offered full refunds via email.
Mana and Naked buses currently stop in Whangārei and Paihia with minor stops in
Wellsford, Kaiwaka, Brynderwyn Hills, Ruakaka, Oakleigh, Kamo, Hikurangi, Towai, Kawakawa, and Opua hill.
The services have been running in Northland since late 2014 when ManaBus was launched.
Andrew Ritchie of Ritchies said his company would not run the Mana services from July 15.
"Bear in mind InterCity run all the same routes. So all the current towns and city have service," he said.
But that's cold comfort for regular commuters like Harry Grace.
Grace regularly travels in ManaBus from Rotorua to Kawakawa to visit his family in Moerewa and said the impending stoppage in services would be a huge blow to struggling families, particularly in Northland.
"I think people would be pretty disgusted in ManaBus packing up. For me, a trip from Rotorua to Kawakawa via Auckland on Mana bus costs $40. You couldn't run your car for that amount," he said.
Grace, who was born in Moerewa and moved to Rotorua five years ago, travels to Northland once a month and said he knew a lot of people who used ManaBus.
"The only reason we use ManaBus is because it's cheaper than InterCity and the only reason ManaBus entered the market was to make it harder for competitors to put their prices up," he said.
Andy Larsen, owner of YHA Bay of Islands Paihia, said an end to budget bus operations would reduce competition and lower choices for travellers to and from Northland.
"Buses serve a major role in getting people up here. We are able to tell people that there are lots of ways and competitive prices on offer to get up here and that's good."
A number of people vented their frustration on the Northern Advocate Facebook page.
TeAroha Manukura said taking ManaBus away meant the cheaper option on bus travel would be gone.
Jack Hutchinson said: "Their Whangarei to Auckland service was brilliant. Always a top notch professional driver who wasn't afraid to chat with the passengers. A huge loss for the Northland region."
Kay Jenkin said Northland seemed to miss out on everything.
Another traveller Jan Finlayson said: "That will be a big loss for Northlanders. Have had many good trips down and back as I no longer feel able to drive myself."