As the big yellow bus rumbles past the avenues, two suited passengers chat by the window.

They are Tauranga City Council transport committee chairman Rick Curach and NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell, who is spending this sunny Friday travelling around by bus and foot to "know what it's like" for people who don't drive.

For Mr Mitchell, the day started when he walked his children to school. He then took a bus to a meeting with former mayor Stuart Crosby. At 9.40am he met Mr Curach at a bus stop on 2nd Ave to wait for the number 40 bus to a meeting in Welcome Bay with learning-disability group People First.

There were a couple of false starts as other buses came and went.


"We're novices at this bus-transportation thing," Mr Mitchell said, "but by the end of the day we'll be experts."

At 9.45am, the pair set off to the meeting in Welcome Bay with a communications specialist and a reporter in tow.

Mr Mitchell quickly slipped into politician mode, engineering a chat with a passenger before returning to Mr Curach.

He had already chatted with several bus passengers today. The feedback so far?

"Our bus schedule is working well, but slightly behind schedule - 10 minutes at times."

Mr Curach said Bay of Plenty Regional Council was examining the possibility of having Wi-Fi on buses and arrival times displayed at bus stops. Tauranga City Council had invested some money on improving walkways and cycleways.

"It's proving to be more of a challenge than we anticipated," he said. "Taking a bicycle is weather-dependent."