Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Busy Welcome Bay gets extra bus

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Jane Nees with Don Thwaites,and Anna Larsen from Welcome Bay Community Centre talking about extra bus routes. Photo/Andrew Warner
Jane Nees with Don Thwaites,and Anna Larsen from Welcome Bay Community Centre talking about extra bus routes. Photo/Andrew Warner

Welcome Bay is getting an additional bus to help cope with a 7 per cent increase in passenger numbers in February and March.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is trialling an extra bus run which will depart from Welcome Bay at Osprey Drive at 7.05am an 8.05am, and from Willow St at 3.15pm until the end of June.

Councillor Lyall Thurston said peak traffic volumes were making it particularly hard for buses to meet service times in Welcome Bay.

Because of this, the extra buses would not help improve service times but would help manage capacity issues.

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The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had received complaints about passengers being unable to board buses at peak times.

In February and March, there was a 7.6 per cent increase in passengers using the Welcome Bay buses compared to the same months last year. Overall, passenger numbers on Tauranga's urban network have decreased 1 per cent. Welcome Bay student passenger numbers have grown 56 per cent in the last two years, Mr Thurston said.

"We needed to understand the cause of the issues as there are a number of factors that may have had an influence, including students using the public service in favour of the Schoolhopper, construction activity in the area and heavy traffic during peak times."

The extra service will operate Monday to Friday and only during the school terms until the end of June this year.

Welcome Bay Community Centre manager Anna Larsen said the bus service in the area was something that had needed attention for some time. The extra buses on the route would help but there were other issues that needed to be addressed as well.

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"For example, it takes two buses to get to Tauranga South, which the Government has deemed is our service centre for Work and Income, police, probation. The polytech is just down the road from us, and there's no direct bus route."

Ms Larsen said since fares were introduced for school children, the peak hour traffic in the suburb had become much worse.

The cost for the additional service had not yet been finalised, but would be met from the regional council's current financial year's budget.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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