Skifield success causes problems
Huge congestion on roads around Ruapehu ski fields over the weekend hampered emergency services and has angered a community board member
National Park Community Board member Simon O’neil [also a member of the National Park and Whakapapa Fire Emergency NZ] accused the Ruapehu District Council and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts [RAL] of contributing to the traffic jams with its new Park ‘n Ride Service.
O’neil said emergency services were unable to get onto the road with traffic clogging up 6km of SH48.
His comments are a complete contrast to a press release sent out by Ruapehu District Council Land Transport Manager Warren Furner, hailing the Park ‘n Ride service a huge success.
He said things went ‘‘really well’’ for the first weekend of the new service.
‘‘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.
‘‘This is not the first time that it [Ruapehu District Council] has released information like this with only a slight resemblance to reality.’’ Simon O'neill
O’neil said traffic was so congested that emergency service vehicles couldn’t get onto the road let alone along it. He said RAL was still encouraging people to come to Whakapapa.
‘‘This is not the first time that it [the council] has released information like this with only a slight resemblance to reality.’’
Over 7000 people used the Park ‘n Ride service from Ohakune and National Park Village to Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas.
Furner said it made a big difference in resolving the type of traffic issues they would normally expect.
He said the bus service took an estimated 3000 cars off the roads in the Tongariro National Park over the weekend.
Lucy Conway said friends spent two hours waiting to get up the mountain to Whakapapa in the shuttle.
Ross Copland, CEO for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts said congestion was caused by ill-equipped and inexperienced drivers who chose not to use the free park and ride service.
He said staff and contractors cleared five vehicles off Bruce Rd on Saturday.