Fares rise, bus passenger numbers fall

By John Cousins

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Taking the bus has become less popular than predicted, following the first fare hike in three years.

Patronage dropped 9 per cent in the first week of the new Bay Hopper fares being rolled out on September 3, recovering slightly the following week to a 7 per cent decline.

Adult fares rose 40c to $3 and Smartride card concession fares by 32c to $2.40. It was the first fare increase for three years, except to absorb the 2.5 per cent increase in GST.

A survey of bus users this year indicated the price rise was likely to result in patronage falling by 4 per cent and revenue increasing by 11 per cent.

However, regional council transport policy manager Garry Maloney said it was too early to make any substantial conclusions about whether the rise has had a long-term impact on patronage.

Mr Maloney said it was difficult to say how much of the decrease was the result of higher fares and how much was caused by other factors such as the weather. The first week of spring may have seen more people cycling or walking.

Comparing year on year, he was encouraged that the second week of the new fares was higher than 2011's figures and said council would have a better picture in a few months.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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