As students around the Bay are heading back to school, parents will be pleased to know students travelling on Bayhopper buses will receive free fares through a yearlong trial.
The fare-free trial of free bus transport for Tauranga school students was adopted in June 2019 as part of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Annual Plan 2019/2020, says Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s public transport committee chair Cr Andrew von Dadelszen.
In 2019, a free-fare bus trial was held in Welcome Bay to see whether free fares for students can assist in Tauranga’s traffic congestion.
In figures shown to The Weekend Sun, during the month of August 2019, 9310 students caught a bus in the morning, compared to August 2018 when 4518 caught the bus in the morning and had to pay.
In the afternoon during the month of August, 7063 students boarded a bus to Welcome Bay in the afternoon in 2018 whereas 11,888 students boarded a bus in August during 2019 when the fare-free bus trial was taking place.
Andrew says the reason the afternoon use is higher than the morning is largely due to school kids being dropped off at school in the morning, then catching the bus home.
The total boarding for buses in Welcome Bay from June to December 2019 is 88,996 compared to 56,662 students in total from June to December in 2018.
Andrew says because of the disruption to school services that were experienced in the first term of 2019, it wasn’t until June that they were able to get reliable readings.
For students wanting to gain a fare-free bus ride this year, all they need to do is travel on a dedicated school bus or urban Bayhopper bus before 9am and between 2.30pm and 6.30pm.
“This is a one year trial and applied to school days only. Students must have their student ID and/or be in school uniform,” says Andrew.
“Transport was one of the key focus areas of consultation on the Annual Plan, with councillors also agreeing to progress a trial in 2020 of services to help tertiary students and commuters travel between Whakatane, Rotorua, Kaitkati and Tauranga.
“It’s hoped the transport trials will provide some solid information for staff to use when the decision of whether or not to continue them on a permanent basis is made.”
Some school bus routes for 2020 has been changed with some new routes also being added.
“This is to provide additional capacity for the expected increase in student numbers,” says Andrew.
“In many cases this year’s bus trips will be quicker for students.”