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Million dollar bus service for Rotorua


MEDIA RELEASE


Million dollar bus service for Rotorua

For immediate release: Thursday 30 October 2003

Rotorua’s bus service will be given a major revamp next year and now’s the time for residents to have their say on it.

Environment Bay of Plenty is seeking local feedback on the “significant changes” it plans to make from July next year. They will double the cost of the service from $500,000 to more than $1 million annually.

Environment Bay of Plenty regional development committee chairman Athole Herbert says the proposals include new fare structures, more frequent services, twice as many routes, and longer hours of operation. In the long-term, this may include until late on Friday and Saturday nights. Bus seating plans will make sure there is room for pushchairs, luggage and groceries.

Mr Herbert says the current service is infrequent, has long and indirect routes and limited hours of operation. “We want to develop a service that is reliable, reasonably priced, and takes people where they want to go,” he explains. “We want it to meet the needs of Rotorua people but, to do that, we have to find out what people actually want. We need to know whether we’re on the right track.”

Environment Bay of Plenty funds 54% of the cost of the Rotorua bus service, Rotorua District Council 6% and Transfund NZ 40%. It is currently managed by Rotorua District Council and operated under contract by Ritchies Coach Lines. However the regional council, which already administers passenger transport in Tauranga and the eastern Bay of Plenty, will take over the hands-on management in July next year when Ritchies’ contract comes up for re-tender.

Environment Bay of Plenty brought in the first stage of improvements to the urban service earlier this year. At that time, it introduced several more frequent runs and restructured some routes to make them more direct.

But from July next year, Mr Herbert says, the regional council will revamp the whole service, including fares, timetables and routes. “Eventually, Rotorua people may be able to catch a bus to start work at 6am – and catch another one to go home after a late night out on Friday.”

The proposed changes include:

Fares
A flat fare of $2.50 for adults with 40% concessions for children, students, senior citizens and an additional 40% discount for Smart Card holders. Smart Cards cost $10 to buy and can be used indefinitely. “They pay for themselves after 10 trips,” Mr Herbert says. Current adult fares range in price from $1.60 to $3, depending on the number of sections travelled.

Service Frequency
At the moment, buses travel each route every hour to two hours. After July next year, it is proposed to have one trip every 30 minutes. “Right now, you could wait two hours for a bus. We want to make that a maximum of 30 minutes.”

Hours of Operation
Buses currently run from about 7am to 5.15 or 6.15pm Monday to Friday. Environment Bay of Plenty wants to extend the hours and days of operation over the next five years. It would start next year with a 6am to 6pm service running Monday to Saturday. By 2008 Friday and Saturday services could run to midnight and Sunday to 8.30pm.

Routes
It is proposed to double routes from five to 10.

Environment Bay of Plenty has valued the assistance of Rotorua District Council councillors and staff in the development of the new service, Mr Herbert says.

The regional council is also looking at extending the hours of Tauranga’s Bay Hopper bus service to 6pm, he adds.

If you wish to share your views on Rotorua buses, please email garry@envbop.govt.nz, fax 0800 368 329, or write to Freepost Environment Bay of Plenty, Environment Bay of Plenty, P O Box 364, Whakatane before the end of November.

ENDS

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