Win for urban public transport in the Horizons Region

Urban public transport infrastructure in the Horizons Region is getting a $9.2 million boost thanks to funding from Waka Kotahi.

Horizons Regional Council applied to the Transport Choices fund in September in conjunction with Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) and Whanganui City Council (WDC). The fund welcomed applications that looked to make public transport more reliable and easier to use, develop cycling networks, walkable neighbourhoods, and supporting safe green and healthy school travel.

Horizons’ Passenger Transport Committee chair Sam Ferguson says the funding will be spent on enhancing infrastructure to support planned service improvements next year.

“Horizons and PNCC have closely collaborated on the development of a re-designed public transport network in Palmerston North which will be introduced in 2023,” he says.

“The new network will be frequent, fast, reliable and simple and is aimed at maximising the potential for mode shift by catering to the needs of the majority of transport users across the city. With a transformational new network, there is a need to ensure the poor quality of bus stops aren’t a barrier to travel.

“Thanks to central government we now have $7 million to upgrade public transport network infrastructure to align with the roll out of a new bus service in the city. This is a significant funding injection and we hope the improved service and enhanced bus stops will see new users take up public transport.”

PNCC transport and development group manager Hamish Featonby says the funding will help to build new bus shelters in Palmy.

"We're happy to receive this funding to rejuvenate our bus shelters in Palmy, which we are planning to carry out alongside our partners at Horizons as they roll out a new bus service in the city next year,” he says.

“We’ll ensure the shelters represent the city and our history, and encourage more people to take up public transport.”  

Mr Ferguson says the remaining $1.2 million is going to Whanganui to support a new, high frequency bus route beginning in February.

“Horizons has been working with Whanganui District Council for a number of years on bringing to life a different way of travelling around the city,” he says.

“The service aims to get more people travelling by bus in Whanganui by making public transport more accessible for all. This funding will see the new route supported with timely and accurate information which is great.”

Whanganui District Council chief executive, David Langford, says Whanganui is ideally suited to public transport and the new infrastructure is another measure which will make catching the bus an appealing way to get around town.

"When we surveyed the community on public transport earlier this year a frequent comment was people wanted to see more bus shelters and bus information that was easier to understand.

"With this funding from mid-2023 we'll be able to upgrade up to 15 of Whanganui's key bus stops across the network, installing all-weather shelters with good lighting and real-time digital signs that show exactly how far away your bus is from the bus stop."

Mr Langford says the new shelters will be equipped with cycle parking facilities as well as designated e-scooter parking, so people can easily bike or scooter to connect with a bus stop.

"Alongside this we have funding from Waka Kotahi to work with the community to design an attractive bus hub in lower St Hill Street. Community workshops for the St Hill Street bus hub will kick off in early 2023, so keep an eye out for details.

"These upgrades fit with our council's commitment to take action on climate change and will give Whanganui people more options on how they choose to move around the city as they go about their day," he says.

For bus timetables and other transport related information, including real time bus tracking, please see