Perfect weekend for start of free park and ride service
An estimated 7,000 plus people made use of the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) new free park and ride service from Ohakune and National Park Village to Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas over the weekend.
Ruapehu District Council Land Transport Manager Warren Furner said that overall things went really well for the first weekend of the new service with comments from people on the buses and on social media overwhelmingly positive.
“It was a perfect weekend to trial the new park and ride service with fine weather after a big dump of fresh snow,” he said.
“There were a lot of people wanting to get up the mountain to enjoy the new snow and the free park and ride service made a big difference in resolving the type of traffic issues that we would normally expect on the mountain roads under these conditions.”
“The few issues we did have included some parking congestion in the Ohakune CBD and at the National Park Railway Station along with people using private commercial parking spaces at the Ohakune New World and National Park Station Café Restaurant.”
“To help manage these issues Council will be installing restricted parking P90 signs on Ayr and Goldfinch Streets and together with RAL will be supporting these changes with a communications campaign.”
“We are very confident that the few issues that did occur over the weekend will be ironed-out and the free park and ride service will be a great success that helps to enhance the visitor experience.”
Mr. Furner added that the bus service took an estimated 3,000 cars off the roads in the Tongariro National Park over the weekend.
“Anyone who is inexperienced in driving in winter mountain road conditions should definitely use the park and ride service as a first choice option over taking their own car up to the ski areas,” he said.
“RAL reported that their road teams recovered dozens of private vehicles that had became stuck or slid off the road due to a combination of speed, experience and incorrect equipment.”
“In addition to helping avoid the congestion issues that would have been typical in previous years on similar weekends the new park and ride bus service is helping keep people safe and as well as providing real environmental benefits.”