Media release

Media release: Queenstown’s 30-year public transport plan ramps up

Thursday 8 December 2022

The Queenstown community is to be consulted on a vision for buses, ferries and more, as part of the Way to Go programme to develop a 30-year plan for public transport.

Way to Go logoThe programme is led by the Otago Regional Council, which manages the bus service, in partnership with the Way to Go partners and co-funders of the service, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (WK).

A business case on how public transport could evolve over the next 15-years in the popular tourist town is one of several under the Way to Go programme designed to encourage more people onto buses, bicycles, ferries, and other modes of low-emission, active or shared transport.

The business case aims to paint a picture of future public transport, including on-demand services and zero-emission buses. It will scope out the role of park-and-ride, capacity demands and constraints, as well as systems and resources, and what bus hubs might look like. It will also present what funding is needed over time.

To develop a case for change, the community will be asked for their input, with consultation due to start in the first quarter of 2023, says ORC GM Operations Gavin Palmer.

“It’s much broader than the current challenges the sector is dealing with right now. This work ultimately aims to significantly grow the number of people in and around Queenstown using public transport, or walking and cycling, over the next 30 years.

“It will help provide part of the blueprint to support behaviour change, achieve lower emissions, and create a sustainable future for the district.

“It’s a challenging target, so we need to keep working on this,” says Dr Palmer.


Queenstown Orbus Service

Photo credit: Queenstown Lakes District Council


The work reflects the Way to Go governance decarbonisation goal, with a high-level view of public transport requirements over a further 15-years from 2037 to 2051.

The business case will need to be considered by the regional council, with the final outcome agreed by the three partners involved, and contingent on funding. It is due to be completed in August 2023.

QLDC Transport Strategy Manager and Way to Go Programme Manager Tony Pickard says Queenstown people are keen for greater access to public transport.

“This investigation will be an important part of ensuring the right investment is made in the right service for the community,” he says.

Waka Kotahi Regional Manager Richard Osborne stressed the importance of this work and the desire to provide greater transport options for people in the Queenstown area.

“This will support the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Upgrade Programme, which is providing dedicated infrastructure to support public transport. It is recognised Queenstown is experiencing huge growth which continues to put pressure on our roading network.”
A specialist team of transport planners and advisors from WSP New Zealand and Australia, including public transport and decarbonisation experts, are developing the business case.

Further information on the Queenstown Public Transport Business Case


The geographical area of the project and current public transport network


About Way to Go

The Way to Go group was formed in November 2018 and is made up of Queenstown Lakes District Council, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, and Otago Regional Council, recognising that all three agencies have an important role in driving change to transport infrastructure in the district.

Details of the projects that come under the Way to Go umbrella