Get on the bus!

Rarotonga and Aitutaki probably have among the highest numbers of motor vehicles per person in the world, meaning that we are likely to produce among the most greenhouse gas emissions per person from motor vehicles.   Nearly everybody over 16 years old appears to own, or have access to, a motor bike or car with many of the senior school students seemingly having individual motorised transport.   On top of that, there are hundreds of rental cars and motorbikes that service the tourism industry.  Now that COVID restrictions are gone, we are back into the madness of a full traffic load on our roads.

This individual “right” to personalised fossil fuelled transport is a real problem for our climate when looked at on a global scale due to all the carbon being put into the atmosphere from the exhaust.   If you would like to do your small part for the environment by reducing our carbon emissions and reducing traffic on our roads, you might like to consider making more use of public transport.

Cook’s Bus Service has recently introduced some high tech innovations that make it much easier, and cheaper, for locals to use their bus service.  They utilised some of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Smart Grant funding, available during COVID times, to introduce a smart-card based ticket system, with online payment and PayWave options. The system also makes use of the “Transportme” mobile phone App providing ‘real time’ ticketing and information on bus locations.

Danny Cook from Cook’s Island Buses says that the COVID funding provided the perfect opportunity to improve their service and make using public transport easier. “There’s more traffic on the roads and infrastructure upgrades happening, so a better bus service will attract more people to use the service and help relieve the growing pressure on our roads. The SMART Grant enabled us to provide a better service to our customers by taking advantage of newer technology”.

For $15, you can purchase one of these smart bus cards.  You then top up this card at the Cooks Buses office, directly with the bus driver or through online banking.  School students are charged at a rate of $1.90 per ride, while Cook Islands locals and workers are charged $2 per ride.  Free bus services are available to the disabled community and some old age pensioners are also eligible for this free service, though this is reviewed on a case by case basis.

Tourists are not left out either, as they can purchase a 10 ride pass for $30, making it just $3 per ride, instead of the normal $5.

Another advantage of the new technology is that, by making use of the “Transportme” mobile phone app, you can track the location of the bus in real time.  This means you should never miss the bus again!  We tested it out as the clockwise bus went past our office, and it was exactly on time as shown by the app.


If you would like to know more about the Cook Islands public transport service, and how it might make your life a bit less chaotic by removing school drop-off and pickups, and at the same time reducing congestion on our roads, you can contact  Cook’s buses on 25512 or email