Council impressed by public feedback

Unprecedented public response to the proposed new bus networks for mid-2018 has resulted in the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Public Transport Committee recommending that changes don’t occur as soon as originally planned.

Over 1,470 individual pieces of feedback were received via www.drivechange.co.nz as well as at community events and via phone and email, with support for faster journeys, more direct services and a higher frequency of buses emerging as key themes.

As well as underlining the importance of public transport for our region, Public Transport Committee Chairman Lyall Thurston says council is delighted with the sheer volume of the public response.

“This whole process is about finding a community-led solution; we’ve been listening and will continue to listen to what the public has to say,” Councillor Thurston said.

Of the feedback received 61% related to the Bayhopper network, operating hours and bus features while 39% commented specifically on school buses.  Those concerned with the proposed reduction in school bus services for Aquinas College, Bethlehem College and Tauranga Intermediate provided the majority of the school responses.

Despite only a minority of schools opposing the plan it was important to work collaboratively on solutions says Councillor Thurston.

“Extending the current Bayhopper and Schoolhopper contracts for six months will allow us more time to refine the proposed network to reflect public feedback but also to work directly with impacted schools to find solutions and we expect this may involve some school-led initiatives”.  

Regional Council staff will continue to work closely with their partners at New Zealand Transport Agency, Ministry of Education, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council to enable the Western Bay to move towards moving better, a key focus is looking to pilot the introduction of electric buses.

Following meetings with schools and stakeholder groups, further recommendations will be presented to the full council in September.