Papamoa residents are expressing their displeasure at the lack of efficiency, and timeliness, of the city’s bus service.
Debs Turner and Adrian Muller, of Papamoa, are upset about the current bus situation in operating through the Western Bay of Plenty.
Passengers are unhappy with the current bus situation operating in the Western Bay of Plenty. Photo: Bruce Barnard.
Debs, who uses the service most days to travel to Tauranga Hospital where she volunteers in the children’s ward, says the scheduling of buses to and from Papamoa means some of her time is lost.
“A lot of their buses leave at the same time - especially on the weekend. On the Saturday, at Bayfair, one leaves at 3pm, the next one leaves at 3.05pm and the other one leaves at 3.15pm. They can’t seem to understand that that’s a problem.
“They told me that was my problem to make sure I’m there on time. But that’s not always practical.”
Debs says a 45-minute wait results if a person just misses the 3.15pm bus.
“At the hot pools, if you miss the Number 30 you have to wait an hour or catch three buses to get back to Papamoa. They say to walk from the hot pools down to the Mount but a lot of old people can’t do that.”
Adrian shared Debs’ concern about the frequency of the buses, and has captured photographs of two buses approaching the Papamoa depot at once.
He is grateful for the ‘comprehensive’ coverage of the district, but believes the manner in which the service is structured to be inefficient.
“I cannot help but wonder at what seems to be an awful lot of wastage of ratepayers’ money here. Day after day I see buses going right down to the east end of Papamoa which, except for the driver, are completely empty both ways.
“I have suggested using much smaller buses, or cutting the frequency of the service in the furthermost parts of the run, to save costs.
“Whilst I will be ever grateful to Winston Peters in giving us retirees a Gold Card to allow free use of these buses, when I eventually have to give up driving, I am most worried that by running these buses empty all day, the TCC will cut the service, and we will all lose out.
“Even if one of the buses stayed parked at the Palm Beach mall, and the driver read the paper, while the other did its usual near-empty run, this would save the running costs and fuel, and save other road users having to accommodate buses on the very narrow back-roads they travel, like Dickson Road.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council transport policy manager Garry Maloney says the council constantly reviews and monitors all services, including the three bus routes to Papamoa, to ensure each runs as efficiently as possible.
“During weekdays Route 30 is an hourly service and Routes 33 and 36 are half-hourly. However, during weekends there are less passengers and these services are hourly.
“The three Papamoa routes have seen good growth since 2009, going from having 184,990 passengers during the period from July 2009 to December 2009 to 259,500 passengers during the period between July 2011 and December 2011 – a rise of more than 40 per cent.
“We work hard to try to stagger departures to similar destinations as best as we can, however we have identified the Papamoa weekend timetables as routes that need some work and we are looking into this.
“We apologise to those who have found this an inconvenience.”