Horizons Regional Council operate public transport services throughout the Manawatū-Whanganui region, including urban services in Palmerston North and Whanganui, and regional services between smaller centres. Recently they opened consultation on a review of that regional network.
The proposal features a mixture of lower and higher frequency routes, building up a simple network structure that prioritises important links while allowing for intermodal and interregional connections:
- Connection to rail services into Porirua and Wellington at Waikanae and Palmerston North
- Connection to rail services into the Hutt and Wellington at Masterton
- Connection to bus services into the Hawkes Bay at Waipukurau
- Connection to bus services into Taranaki at Hāwera
- Connection to rail services into Auckland at Hamilton
The Palmerston North – Hamilton route is designed to fill the gap between lower north island rail services (currently the Capital Connection) and Te Huia. It could be replaced by a local rail service, but importantly this is not meant as part of an express direct Wellington – Auckland service. Rather, this is a ‘local’ service (in the regional sense) that enables more connectivity to and from the bus and rail services at either end. E.g., it opens connectivity to Porirua for someone in Taihape.
The Whanganui – Ohakune and Taurmarunui – Taupō routes could also be joined up, providing a direct Whanganui – Taupō route. (The Whanganui – Taumarunui section would echo the old riverboat service up the Whanganui River!)
Consultation has now closed, but we’re eager to see what happens next with this network review! Regional public transport connectivity in New Zealand is often left to a confusing and inconsistent network structure (e.g., buses between towns that run every second Sunday), so I really hope that simplicity and comprehensibility are prioritised when confirming Horizons’ new network. People use services they can rely on and understand.
This map has featured in a couple of places since:
- A short write-up in the Whanganui Chronicle on this proposal: How Whanganui could be linked to passenger rail services
- Darren Davis’ explainer of the review, and ideas for a regional network: Broader public transport horizons for Horizons?