“Golden opportunity” to trial free bus fares

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A recent government offer of half-price bus fares for three months may be extended to free fares, if the Bay of Plenty Regional Council agrees.

At a recent meeting of the Bay of Plenty Public Transport committee, the regional council's transport and urban planning manager spoke to councillors about the half price fare reduction announced last week, which applies to public transport contracted by the regional council.

He says the government will be covering all costs incurred by the offer, from April 1 until June 30, including any expense around making the change, such as changes in ticketing.

Regional councillor Norm Bruning describes the announcement as a 'golden opportunity” to test consumer appetite for free bus fares.

'I'd have to see the figures before I voted for it, but if it's not going to cost us that much money, why don't we take it further and make it a free bus service for three months.”

Bruning is proposing staff put forward options to the next full council meeting.

Tauranga City Council commissioner Stephen Selwood agrees it's "an amazing opportunity to test price sensitivity”.

'We don't have a huge awareness of that, so if it were financially feasible to run free fares for a while, then back to half, and then back to full, then there will be the understanding about the effect that is having on patronage. While it might cost a little bit in the short term, it could be invaluable knowledge for the longer term.”

Regional councillor Lyall Thurston also agrees.

'This is one golden opportunity to either celebrate or put to bed once and for all any arguments about whether free fares will get untold thousands onto buses.”

'What we don't know is the cost of this to our council,” committee chairman Andrew Von Dadelszen says.

'It will come back to our full council to decide and hopefully by that stage we will have a cost analysis.”

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Never been about cost for me

Posted on 23-03-2022 10:44 | By Kancho

But connecting buses is a problem as waiting up to twenty minutes or more for the next bus. last time I was stranded for over half an hour. I used to go to the hospital from Pyes Pa in fifteen minutes now can be anything up to forty minutes. So car is better. Also no need to go into town anymore as it's depressing. Buses still mostly empty so guess a few more may use it. I found last time it was free homeless people tide around town at lot , some were anti social so not exactly comfortable to be on the bus

Support it

Posted on 23-03-2022 10:53 | By SonnyJim

A three-month free trial may produce interesting figures so long as Bee Cards are used to record all trips for later analysis.

Free is too expensive

Posted on 23-03-2022 15:22 | By jed

Buses do not go where I want, when I want. I'll stick to my car thank you.

golden op

Posted on 23-03-2022 15:25 | By VIC SEVEN

11 years AGO when i was driving for GO BUS I suggested making BUSES FREE..we had so much problems with ticket machines going faulty. fraud. handing you tickets days old on a transfer. drivers. getting robbed and list goes on on TAURANGA COUNCIL were losing so much revenue and nobody cared some drivers did.

Free bus fares?

Posted on 23-03-2022 16:18 | By TheCameltoeKid

I would like to know just how are these fares going to be free? I presume that these Councillors mean that they will be funded by the BOP Regional Council. And just exactly do they get their money? The answer is Ratepayers and Port profits which used to be owned by Ratepayers so that means that this proposal is definitely NOT free whatsoever. When will these Councillors realise that the money doesn't belong to them it belongs to RATEPAYERS and the funding for these pathetic empty monstrosities driving aimlessly around our cities spewing out diesel fumes is not free at all.

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