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Buses boom in Tauranga slower ride further east

Buses boom in Tauranga but a slower ride further east

Buses are booming in Tauranga but it’s a slower ride to success further east.

Environment Bay of Plenty, which administers passenger transport in the region, has just completed a review of all the services it offers in the western and eastern sub-regions – including some that are still in their trial period.

Regional development committee chairman Athole Herbert says, while most services are reaching or surpassing their targets, others are “a bit slower to get there” and will be watched closely over the next year or two. Two runs may have to be dropped because not enough people are travelling on them.

Tauranga’s Bay Hopper service logged a 25% rise in patronage over the past year, with a grand total of 584,000 trips. Because of its popularity, Environment Bay of Plenty has decided to “plug a few gaps” by extending the hours to 6:00 pm and improving the midday timetable.

Mr Herbert says the Bay Hopper service continues to go “from strength to strength”. “We’re very happy with it. It’s great to see so many people making the most of these buses.”

The Bay Coaster from Whakatane to Tauranga, the Beach Runner between Whakatane and Ohope, and a Murupara to Rotorua run also reported steady increases in use. “They have proven themselves a success and that means their future is assured.”

However, services that connect Opotiki and Kawerau to Whakatane are not faring as well. “They’ve been going for 18 months now and they’re slowly getting there. But haven’t quite met targets yet. We really need more people to use them.” Mr Herbert says the trial period will be extended another 18 months “to give numbers a chance to build up a bit more”. After that, the regional development committee will review the situation.

The two services at risk of being cut are a daily commuter run between Te Puke and Mt Maunganui and a weekly service that links Murupara and Whakatane. Before making any move, the Council will consult with local authorities and the communities of Murupara and Te Puke. “We need to find out if there are any other reasons to continue these services.”

Environment Bay of Plenty has administered a new Cityride service in Rotorua since July 1. Mr Herbert says it is too early to have patronage figures for the service yet but it appears to be going well.

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