Tauranga parents fear for the safety of their children if the proposed scrapping of school buses goes ahead.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is consulting with the public on the idea to cut 45 school buses down to 11 and get students riding public buses instead.

Scrapping Schoolhopper bus services would mean $1.5 million in savings to go towards public Bayhopper services - making public buses more frequent and reducing trip times.

School buses could be slashed from 45 services down to 11. Photo/file
School buses could be slashed from 45 services down to 11. Photo/file

Papamoa's Miranda Horan has two children attending Aquinas College and could not contain her exasperation with the idea.


"There's been uproar amongst the parents at Aquinas College. Not a single parent I've spoken to thinks it's a good idea."

Instead of a 45-minute ride to school on one school bus, her 11-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son would have to change buses at the Bayfair interchange.

"How would you feel sending an 11-year-old daughter on a bus with strangers, then navigate the interchange and get on the right bus - and hopefully it's not full otherwise she will have to wait by herself for longer."

Ms Horan said she and the other parents were already talking about car pooling to get their children to school if the changes went through.

On the public bus children would be left wide open to grooming or being targeted for drugs, she said.

"I know it's not terrible people who ride the bus but you never know. Look what just happened in Rotorua - a bus driver was attacked with a baseball bat."

A mother of four, who wished to remain unnamed, said proposing for kids to have a two to three-bus journey morning and afternoon was fraught with potential problems.

"Stranger danger, cost, missed buses, late for classes, kids on buses late when darkness comes early in winter, rough elements at interchanges," she listed.


Her kids, who go to Matua Primary and Aquinas College, would have even longer days, shrinking time for kids "to just enjoy being kids".

Aquinas College mother-of-three Pamela Sheahan was deeply concerned.

"Its not too bad, I suppose, if the children are older, but if you have young children ... this could be very daunting for them.

"I can see many parents, including myself - simply reverting back to taking the children to school by car - which will add more cars to the roads in the mornings and afternoons each day - how on earth does this help ease congestion in Tauranga?" Mrs Sheahan said.

Mother-of-two Katrina Hyland, of Mount Maunganui, said if the changes happened she would feel forced to drive her children to school.

"Many of the students are quite young which council have either ignored or simply not taken it into account."

Lyall Thurston, chairman of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Public Transportation Committee, said for many years some parents had their children's bus trips heavily subsided by ratepayers and the huge costs associated with continuing to operate the current system had become "untenable".

"The regional council is trying to make sure there is greater equity in the system," he said.

Mr Thurston said the school bus service in this area was never supposed to be a "door-to door" service and there needed to be some compromises to bring this region in line with other parts of the country.

"As parent and a member of the Board of Trustees of John Paul College, one of the largest co-ed schools in New Zealand, I am fully aware of the issues, and so are the representatives from Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Rotorua City Council," he said.

The regional council has launched its online feedback website but due to lengthy processes the possible new bus network would not begin operating until mid-2018.

On the http://www.drivechange.co.nz/schoolhopper website safe school bus travel advice was given for patents.

New bus network
• It was agreed in 2013 that by mid-2018 the council would optimise services by folding most Schoolhopper services into Bayhopper.
• A new city loop service would operate every 15 minutes from the CBD out to the Mount and Bayfair, and along Cameron Rd to Greerton.
• Bus services to the city's western suburbs would go every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.
• There would be a bus every 15 minutes in each direction between Bayfair and Papamoa Plaza.