Waitara Express bus service to halve travel time

A new Waitara Express bus service is set to hit the road this month – halving the journey time between the township and New Plymouth.

Taranaki Regional Council is launching the State Highway 3 service on 20 May after community calls for improved links in North Taranaki.

The new service will halve the journey time between Waitara and New Plymouth from 50 to just 25 minutes, with one stop in Waitara and one in Bell Block. There will be five return trips a day at times convenient for those commuting to work or for study.

To celebrate its launch, the Council ran a ‘I heart Waitara’ campaign where tamariki were asked to design the back of the Waitara Express. The winner was Taelyn Morehu, aged 11, who attends Manukorihi Intermediate School, and she takes home a $150 Prezzy Card and will soon see her winning entry heading down State Highway 3.

Chair Charlotte Littlewood says the Waitara Express has been introduced as a direct result of feedback from the public.

“We are thrilled to launch this new express service that will vastly improve connections along State Highway 3. The Waitara Express really lives up to its name as it will halve the travel time, making using the bus a great choice for those travelling to school or to work in Waitara, Bell Block or New Plymouth ,” Mrs Littlewood says.

“It costs just $2 with a Bee Card or $3 in cash – that’s great value and so much easier and cheaper than using the car and having to find parking. SuperGold Card holders travel free between 9am to 3pm and it’s just $1 for Community Connect concession holders.

“We’ve been talking to our community about what they want from their public transport network and they have told us loud and clear about updating routes, frequency and timetables. We’re now making what people want a reality.”

The Waitara Express follows a recent boost to the Surf Highway link between Ōpunake and New Plymouth with that service now running Monday to Friday. Further updates to the region’s public transport network are being considered by the Council following the ‘Hop on Board’ bus network consultation which closed on 6 May.

“We’re on a journey to improving our bus services to make them easier to use, an afforadable alternative to the car and helping people choose a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of getting around.”The current Route 20 service from Waitara to New Plymouth via Bell Block will continue, for those wanting the convenience of additional stops.

For further information about the Route 19 Waitara Express timetable, please visit https://www.trc.govt.nz/buses-transport/routes/route-19-bell-blockwaitara-express