A new public transport time table for the Western Bay of Plenty will slash school bus numbers, while adding to the frequency and scope of the Bay Hopper services.
The plan from the Regional Council is to reduce the number of school bus services from 45 to 11, by moving students onto the Bay Hopper network and adding additional services that mirror the urban network to provide peak capacity.
The move is expected to save $1.5 million in contract costs.
The regional council is seeking public feedback on the proposal, which is scheduled to take place in July 2018.
The feedback will help the regional council refine the bus services – where they go, how often and what features people would like to see on them.
“We have proposed some changes, but need to hear whether people think these are the right changes, or whether there are other things we need to consider,” says regional council transport planner Joe Metcalfe.
The proposed changes look to redesign the bus network with more direct routes and more buses.
There will be new buses with more features and less emissions, and new technology to provide passengers with better information.
There will be consistent and clear bus operating hours and improved options for school students.
The proposed changes are influenced by conversations regional council planners have had with schools, students, customers and stakeholders.
“Once feedback has been received, we'll be able to evaluate this and make decisions about what proposed changes will be made to our new Bayhopper and Schoolhopper service contracts which begin mid-2018,” says Joe.
“We will announce these results to schools, affected residents, existing users and the wider community later this year.”
Some areas will experienced reduced services while other will have more, but overall Joe believes it will be a superior network.
The network has been broken into different segments with the Tauranga CBD no longer the interchange hub. For example polytechnic students from Papamoa will be able to change at Bayfair for a bus connecting to Maungatapu and Windermere via SH29.
Changing at Bayfair to go across town to the university and polytechnic instead of through the CBD will save 15-20 minutes. And bus frequency will increase to three buses an hour instead of two.
“What we are doing is reducing journey times 10-15 minutes for people in western suburbs, make it more competitive,” says Joe.
Bayfair is also a connection to the new city loop service that will operates every 15 minutes with stops at the hospital, CBD, Mount Maunganui and Bayfair.
In the Mount it means the buses will only operate on Maunganui Road with new stops in Totara Street.
Stops in Tweed Street, Valley Road and Oceanbeach Road are removed.
The proposed bus routes are here on the Tauranga City Council website.
And here to have a say about it www.drivechange.co.nz