A bus operator based in the Central Plateau has come to the defence of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts in the fallout of the crash that killed one person.

Eleven-year-old Hannah Francis was killed when the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) bus she was in crashed while descending the mountain on Saturday .

The smashed bus is in Whanganui for an inspection as part of the police investigation into the accident.

Read more: Bus driver discharged from hospital following Ruapehu crash that killed one and injured at least 18 others
Bus that crashed and killed a young girl on Mt Ruapehu had history of failed inspections


RAL's chief executive Ross Copland has kept silent on the matter, preferring to wait for investigations to run their course.

The 1994 Mitsubishi Fuso had failed its Certificate of Fitness (CoF) inspection nine times and had a mileage of 277,885km.

Taupo-based Tongariro Expeditions owner, Jared Thomas, said it was important to put those numbers in context.

"Having a high mileage bus of 250,000kms ... well in bus terms that is nothing. An InterCity bus will do that in a year, maybe less," Thomas said.

Mechanic George Swain from Swain Independent Repairs in Taupo agreed, describing the crashed bus's mileage as "very minimal".

"Whereas if you got hold of an old InterCity bus ... most of those have done over 1-point-something million kilometres.

"You'd be surprised how many vehicles running around out there like trucks that have done up in the million plus [kms]."

The RAL bus failed its CoFs on July 29, 2004; November 23, 2005; December 21, 2005; May 8, 2008; May 14, 2009; June 17, 2010; May 3, 2011; June 14, 2012; June 6, 2014; May 13, 2015; and on December 8, 2016.

Thomas said failing a CoF could have meant the operator had taken a bus in for inspection to find out what work needed to be done on it.

The Certificate of Fitness was notoriously difficult to get with one of Jared Thomas buses failing for a faded sticker.
The Certificate of Fitness was notoriously difficult to get with one of Jared Thomas buses failing for a faded sticker.

"A lot of people will use taking their vehicle to a testing station to see what needs to be done. Having nine failures over that period of time ... that's not a news story. So what?

"We used to do that years ago ... but the better way to do it these days is to take it to your mechanic first and they do a pre-check first before it goes to get its CoF."

Thomas said CoFs were notoriously difficult to pass.

"Sometimes we will fail ... our engineers don't pick up everything. They're not looking at everything these sometimes pedantic inspectors are looking for.

"One of our last buses failed for a faded sticker. You could still read the sticker ... that's kind of crazy."

An Automobile Association (AA) vehicle history report obtained by the Herald shows the bus had also recorded "inconsistent" odometer readings.

In July 2010 the bus's odometer reading showed the bus had travelled 199,639km, but declined to 118,044km by May 2011.

The AA report says the odometer may have been tampered with, explaining the drop in kilometres.

Mechanic George Swain said there could equally have been a mistake made when the data was put into a computer.

He said the NZ Transport Agency would be aware of the correct mileage, as road user charges were based on them.