Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Fewer passengers take the bus

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Mount Maunganui resident Gabby Gonzalez is not part of the decreasing bus user numbers, and enjoys her commute. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
Mount Maunganui resident Gabby Gonzalez is not part of the decreasing bus user numbers, and enjoys her commute. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

Mount Maunganui architect Gabby Gonzalez takes BayHopper buses on a regular basis.

"I like it. I like seeing people, and I can relax," Ms Gonzalez says.

She says the 40-minute commute was worth it, because she was conscious of the increasing pollution associated with driving a car every day.

Despite the benefits Ms Gonzalez sees in using public transport, the number of adults using buses in Tauranga is falling.

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A recent report to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Public Transport Subcommittee meeting shows a decrease in people using BayHopper buses.

The number of patrons using the bus service dropped from 142,778 in January last year to 122,347 for the same month this year.

Nationally patronage across the country is down due to decreasing fuel prices.
Gary Maloney, transport policy manager

Transport policy manager Garry Maloney said one reason for the dip was that no additional services were run over the holiday period, as they have been in the past.

The number of adults bussing has dropped by 12.8 per cent, with Mr Maloney saying Tauranga was not alone in this trend.

"Nationally patronage across the country is down due to decreasing fuel prices," Mr Maloney said.

Tertiary students were behind a significant amount of the patronage drop, with 19.1 per cent fewer tertiary students using the service and 12.8 per cent fewer adults using BayHopper buses.

Mr Maloney thought a bus service provided by the Bay of Plenty Polytech for students in Te Puke would have had an impact on this figure.

In contrast, the number of children riding on buses jumped by 50.5 per cent on BayHopper buses, and the SchoolHopper buses pulled in $294,457 from their 290,793 young passengers this year-to-date. The increase was due to the halting of free bus services by the Education Ministry, Mr Maloney said.

He advised there were concerns over the data sourced from Te Puke, but anticipated more reliable data now that a new ticketing system had been installed.

The council's contracted bus service total revenue for January was down 12.9 per cent compared with January last year, and their yearly revenue down by 3.6 per cent.

Mr Maloney said this drop was due to the increase in children using the bus service, who pay 60 per cent of the fare of an adult, and the lost adult revenue.

Mr Maloney said although the bus service had some "teething issues", he thought the community needed to think about all the transport alternatives and their travel choices.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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