The new route will make it easier for Orbus passengers in Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country to travel directly into Queenstown without having to change at the Frankton Hub.
The new service, No. 5, will run every 30 minutes at peak times on weekdays. It will stop at the Frankton hub and then continue to Queenstown via the same stops as the citybound services, removing the need for passengers to transfer.
The No. 5 will also travel the same route back from Queenstown to Lake Hayes Estate, starting at 8:08am.
The service is being trialled for the duration of 2020.
The Otago Regional Council has worked with its local operator, Ritchies, as well as Way To Go partners Queenstown Lakes District Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, to launch the service.
ORC Councillor and Chair of the Regional Transport Committee Alexa Forbes said the Regional Council was pleased to deliver the service.
“This Lake Hayes Estate direct service has been at the top of the list of improvements for many Orbus passengers. We know that to get people to use buses as an alternative to the private car, buses need to be convenient, reliable and cheap. This new service takes another step in that direction by making for a more convenient journey for those traveling from Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country.
“The route will also add capacity down the main corridor between Frankton and Queenstown during peak travel times which will alleviate overcrowding on that route at those times.”
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult was delighted to hear the new direct service would be up and running next week.
“This is an exciting transport development for those living at Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country and one I have been lobbying extensively to be introduced for some time. The direct service will be much more convenient for people working in town or getting around with young families and we hope it results in even more people choosing the $2 bus service over a private car,” he said.
ORC Manager Transport Garry Maloney said resourcing challenges had been resolved.
“Our initial schedule had the start date for early February to ensure all the things like on-street timetables and real-time tracking for the route were ready, but with our operator able to start sooner, we’ve decided to go ahead and launch the service now.
“Delays late last year were primarily related to resourcing the additional route, with challenges posed by driver shortages and changes to rest and meal break legislation.”
Mr Maloney commended Ritchies for working to implement the new route.
The new No. 5 is one of a number of route improvements planned for the Wakatipu Basin network.
“The introduction of the No. 5 route has been considered within the wider network, knowing there is continued growth in Queenstown,” Mr Maloney said.
What will the new route look like?
Like the No. 4, the No. 5 will originate in Lake Hayes Estate/Nerin Square, starting at 7:17am, and follow the same route to Frankton, but it will then continue along Ladies Mile/SH6 to Queenstown.
How does it relate to the existing No. 4 route?
The No. 4 will continue to run every 30 minutes (starting from 6:02am), and the No. 5 will run 15 minutes after each No. 4 service during peak times on weekdays.
This means that a bus will leave Lake Hayes Estate every 15 minutes at peak, going on alternately to either Queenstown or Jack’s Point from Frankton.
What is Way To Go?
Queenstown Lakes District Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the Otago Regional Council have joined forces to develop and deliver a safe, connected and accessible transport network for the Wakatipu.
The partnership is known as Way To Go and recognises that all three agencies have an important role to play in driving change.