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Queenstown’s $2 bus service marks one year since launch


Happy birthday Orbus Queenstown – Queenstown’s $2 bus service marks one year since launch

Since launching on 20 November 2017, Orbus Queenstown has exceeded all expectations for passenger trip numbers, with around 1,264,000 trips taken. This sees the Otago Regional Council operated service at near double the number of trips in the previous commercial service.

“We want to say a huge thank you to the greater Queenstown community for – literally - getting on board – and for helping to encouraging visitors to do the same.” says Gretchen Robertson, the Otago Regional Council Deputy Chair “It’s been an absolutely fantastic start for Orbus this year, and with this level of demand we know we will be able to continue to grow the service. Our thanks is also due to our Orbus partners, Queenstown Lakes District Council and the NZ Transport Agency – and Ritchies, who operate the service.”

QLDC Mayor Jim Boult says he thrilled with the success of the $2 bus service one year in. “The service is a fantastic step in the right direction. In just twelve months we’ve seen a huge shift in how locals and visitors get around the Wakatipu. But it doesn’t stop there, we have a lot of work to do to get people thinking differently about how they travel and a big part of that work will need to include making changes to the service.”

The bus service is an important part of the bigger picture of getting cars off the road and keeping people moving in the face of the unique transport challenges posed by the Wakatipu Basin’s geography, growth, and visitor numbers. Orbus Queenstown is part of the integrated transport strategy and planning collaboration between the Regional Council, QLDC, NZTA, and the Queenstown Airport.

Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships at the NZ Transport Agency says “It is exciting to see the Queenstown bus service and the $2 GoCard fare gaining in popularity and exceeding expectations over its first year. The Transport Agency, alongside Otago Regional Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council, is focused on making a better, more liveable Queenstown for locals and visitors and this affordable new bus service is integral to that liveability.”

Looking to the future, Regional Council Corporate Services Director Nick Donnelly says a key focus will be on integrated communications towards getting fewer cars on the roads. “Alongside QLDC we’re wanting to focus on how we can get people thinking differently about how they travel – instead of assuming any journey defaults to getting in the car, we hope people will begin considering their options for journeys that could include walking, cycling and taking the bus and might combine more than one of these.”

“We know there is community demand for increased services in some areas – and we are looking what addressing this may look like. It can be pretty complicated to make changes, meaning it isn’t always the fastest process, but rest assured we are doing our best to ensure that changes and plans are not only geared towards current needs, but also have an eye to the future”.

Orbus Queenstown at age 1: by the numbers

o 1,445,638 approx kms travelled

o 1,264,316 approx passenger trips

o 4 routes

o 135 bus stops

o 42 drivers employed

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