Council proposes free bus fares for some

The change would affect buses across the region. Photo: Ursula Keay.

People are being encouraged to have their say on bus fares in Tauranga.

Submissions are currently open for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Long Term Plan, with flat bus fares, free fares for community card holders and making the fare free trial for Tauranga schools permanent all up for discussion.

A statement on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website says there are several reasons which prompted bus fares to be included in the LTP.

“In September 2019, the Public Transport Committee approved the scope for a Regional Fare Review with goals of increasing patronage, reducing CO2 emissions, providing equitable transport, and encouraging mode shift.”

There is already a trial in place with free fares for Tauranga school students, which began in January last year.

It was established to see whether free fares for students can assist in Tauranga’s traffic congestion.

In August, Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee chairman Andrew von Dadelszen said more students had been able to use the service since the trial started.

“Covid has had a big effect on our bus patronage, but it’s great to see a 30 per cent jump in use by students year to year.”

According to the BOPRC website, in August alone, more than 70,000 trips were made as part of the trial.

An additional, 21,000 trips were made as part of the tertiary free fares trial.

Both trials will run until December this year.

There are two options available for school children; free fares only at arrival and departure times, 7am-9am and 3pm-6pm, this would increase rates by 11.4 per cent, or $10.83 in Tauranga, or free fares at all times which would equate to a 13.9 per cent increase in rates.

Free fares for tertiary students would mean an increase in rates of 15.8 per cent.

Making bus trips free for community service card holders would see an increase in rates of 5.6 per cent, or $6.35 for Tauranga properties.

Finally, introducing a flat rate for buses would mean rates would increase by 33.9 per cent or nearly $26 for Tauranga properties.

Fares would be $2 with a Bee card or cash $3.

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Tom Ranger

Posted on 05-03-2021 11:04 | By Tom Ranger

@Corwen Hmmm...Replacing normal traffic lanes with bus lanes around TGA hasn’t worked? Perhaps they should outlaw car usage. *sarcasm*

Total cost

Posted on 04-03-2021 16:18 | By Corwen

Surely the bus system should be totally self funding?? Why do rates help pay for it? What is the total cost of running the bus system as it stands?? make it cheap, more people use it!


Posted on 04-03-2021 15:20 | By Let's get real

Have you EVER spoken with a driver about their day...? They are working split shifts because patronage is minimal outside of peak hours during the school term. I know of a driver who has driven on numerous occasions without taking a single dollar and having had fewer than a dozen passengers in a ten hour day (particularly at weekends) so NO it’s not rubbish, you must have lots of elderly friends.


Posted on 04-03-2021 14:33 | By peanuts9

I get tired of people saying buses go past thir door every day and there is nobody on them. Do they sit and watch the buses all day, every day? I use them regularly and am never the only one on them? Why aren’t they using them if they are lucky enough to have them going past the door? Some have to walk quite a distance to a bus stop. We could ease traffic and have much less pollution if more used the buses. As for the fares, I have a Gold Card, so it is free as I suspect it would be for those who sit and see empty buses all day. Only a retiree would have that much free time.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 04-03-2021 13:33 | By Tom Ranger

@Let’s get real. Be careful what you ask for. They’ll increase your rates. Make them free for a little while then start charging them again. Do you think the rates will come back down? Wasn’t the toll on all the toll roads around here supposed to be removed after the road was paid for?


Posted on 04-03-2021 13:14 | By terry hall

that is ridiculous, people pay, thy pass my house in Bethlehem every day with nobody in them they go round and round empty all day.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 04-03-2021 13:13 | By Tom Ranger

No such thing as free as the rates increases associated with these proposals in the article clearly show. User Pays! = No rates increase and a fair outcome. And bus users should cover the cost for the gaurds at the bus-stops too while they are at it. 33.9 per cent!!!! Get off the grass mate! This should all be vehemently opposed and is an obvious attempt to hide rates increases and increase revenue collection by stealth. We will hear after any of these proposals are introduced that busses have run at a profit and we aren’t getting anything back. We know what you are up to TCC and apparently not enough change has occurred as yet. Keep on cutting costs and these ridiculous idea’s from the so called "woke crowd" please commissioners. User pays is the only acceptable resolution.


Posted on 04-03-2021 12:59 | By

Cost cutting could occur by using smaller buses. Most of them are either empty or one or two passengers only.


Posted on 04-03-2021 12:59 | By Let's get real

Free bus transport to and from school isn’t just about traffic congestion, it’s also about keeping kids safe. Undoubtedly, as with all public facilities, student numbers are used to bump-up the figures made available to the public in justifying the need for the service. We are currently pouring millions into another under-performing public service and I suspect that the income from patronage doesn’t cover the wages of the administrators. Why not be honest, admit that it’s failing as a paying service and fund the whole service, fare-free, until it’s established if the population of Tauranga actually want to use it. If public engagement with the service increases substantially, then introduce fares incrementally.


Posted on 04-03-2021 12:54 | By kiwi_brat2003

All I see here is just another charge on everyone and the so what USER PAYS is pushed to one side. The reason why people are not getting involved with submissions is because they never get listened too and the council has already made its mind up. Wonders why people who will never ride the buses have to pay.

Not working

Posted on 04-03-2021 12:53 | By Johnney

We have 4 buses every hour going past our door with hardly any one on them. Something has to give as things are clearly not working. They advertise for drivers to drive their $400,000 machines. A fleet of mini buses would be better.

Here is a Plan

Posted on 04-03-2021 12:32 | By FRANKS

If the staff numbers were cut by say 10% buses could be free without a rates increase.

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