Tauranga could turn back the clock and bring back free school buses in a bid to combat the city's rush-hour traffic woes.
The impact on morning travel times since schools went back this month has inspired city councillor Bill Grainger to call for free student buses.
''People are getting pretty riled up,'' he told the Bay of Plenty Times after a meeting of the council's transport committee last week.
Grainger said free buses would take a lot of cars off the road and could be done in conjunction with colleges reducing student carparks.
Peak morning travel times had doubled between Welcome Bay and the CBD since schools returned, highlighting the impact students were having on Tauranga roads, he said.
Grainger said every second or third car in the morning carried students and more needed to be done to get them onto buses.
He also floated the idea of setting up a park and ride for Welcome Bay and Ohauiti commuters next to the planned Hairini bus interchange, saying he wanted the carpark to be built on council-owned land while construction took place on the Welcome Bay underpass.
Tauranga-based regional councillor John Cronin said he would renew his campaign for free student buses once changes to school bus services had been bedded in. The council administered public transport in the Bay.
''I am hopeful - It is imperative that we get kids on the buses.''
Cronin said it was not a big stretch to have free school buses when seniors got free off-peak bus travel using their Gold Cards. Students and seniors made up parts of the community that generally did not work and earn incomes.
City council transport committee deputy chairman Terry Molloy also saw ''great merit'' in free school buses, saying it should be explored to reduce congestion and free up parking in the CBD.
Molloy had been pushing for free school buses since he was appointed to the regional council's public transport committee. It was nonsense struggling families had to pay their kids' bus fares to school, he said.
Greerton mum Jo Bloxham supported free school buses, saying a lot of parents changed their travel times to work to drop their children off at Tauranga Intermediate or colleges, saving more than $600 a year in bus fares. Other parents combined school trips with household jobs like going to the supermarket.
''I hope that Bill and John Cronin can get something happening.''
Regional councillor and former Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby said the issue with free buses was that someone had to pay: ''Whether it is the NZ Transport Agency or ratepayers - someone has to make up the difference.''
A free or much cheaper service also did not mean it would attract more students. Extra-curricular activities meant some students needed to take cars to school, he said.
Meanwhile, Welcome Bay mum Erica Wilson's attempt to reduce traffic congestion by setting up a carpooling Facebook group page has attracted about 150 to the group. People posting to the page make private arrangements to ride share, mostly to take children to colleges or Tauranga Intermediate.
''It is taking off,'' she said.
&blob; 20,000 extra vehicles expected within the next decade
&blob; 80 per cent potential increase in truck movements over next 30 years
&blob; 90 per cent of commuters drove to work
&blob; 63 per cent of city carbon emissions came from transport
Source: Tauranga City Transport Committee