More buses and extended hours

Extended hours, new services and more frequent buses are just some of the recommendations the Bay of Plenty’s Public Transport Committee will be making to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The committee met Friday, 25 August where a number of papers were presented on key topics relating to current and future public transport needs and operations.

The PT Committee is charged with implementing and monitoring public transport across the region, providing recommendations to regional councillors for final decisions.

Committee chairman, Lyall Thurston says the Bay of Plenty, as with other parts of the country, is facing a number of growth challenges and public transport will play a crucial role in helping address these challenges over the next ten years and beyond.

“It is part of our business as usual approach to public transport to ensure that it is flexible and nimble to be able to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of the community and our environment.

“The effective delivery of a public transport network is complex, challenging and constantly changing, and it requires significant capacity, capability and resources. We will continue to work with our communities, stakeholders and other organisations to ensure the effective delivery of public transport for the Bay of Plenty region.”

The Western Bay of Plenty Blueprint is one such public transport programme that has been finalised following discussions with local stakeholders, with the aim of improving journey times with more direct and regular service connections.

The Blueprint programme also involves new technology to provide users with better information, potentially giving buses priority over traffic in some parts of the network, and some park and ride facilities, all of which aim to drive an increase in demand for public transport, says Cr Thurston.

“We had an unprecedented response from the public following the Blueprint engagement and there’s a strong interest from the community in working with us to build the best public transport network for the community and level of investment.”

The Blueprint programme also involves changes to the school bus network.

“After significant discussion and engagement with schools, we have now developed school-led solutions for five schools and are continuing to work with a further seven schools. During this time, we are also continuing our discussions with the Ministry of Education and Tauranga City Council to ensure the school bus network addresses community feedback.”

Other recommendations for the council include:

  • Extension of operating hours on all urban services to 8pm weekdays and weekends
  • New service to provide an off-peak day time coverage service in Papamoa and Mount Maunganui
  • Increase weekend frequencies on urban service to every 30mins
  • A new service linking Waihi Beach, Athenree, Katikati and Waihi will also be trialled from October.