A petition with nearly 700 signatures is the most recent development in the fight to keep school buses in Tauranga.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is consulting with the public on the proposal to scrap most school buses, instead getting students to ride public buses.

A petition on change.org was started a week ago by a 'concerned Welcome Bay parent' and had already gathered 697 signatures, by 4pm Sunday.

The petition was signed by people against the proposed changes, which would improve public bus services - making them faster and more frequent - but would also cut 45 school buses down to 11.

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With many of the signatures came supporters' reasons for signing.

Timothy Julian wrote the proposed changes would cause huge disruption for families and traffic and "had not been thought through with the best interests of children at heart".

Shereen Bell wrote she did not want her teenagers catching two separate buses to get to Bethlehem College. "The public bus area in Willow St is not a safe place for children."

Anne Barnard said her children were now faced with a 40 minute bus ride, instead of their current 10 minute trip.

"I also don't like the students crossing busy main roads with no pedestrian crossing and being unsupervised on the public buses."

Rachel Ravenswood said the changes would put more cars on the road as parents would take their children to school rather than risk their wellbeing.

The petition would be delivered to the regional council on behalf of all supporters.

Lyall Thurston, chairman of Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Public Transportation Committee, said dropping the plan to integrate Schoolhopper and public Bayhopper was not an option.

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However, the council would be taking on board all feedback and using it to refine the proposed changes.

"Already we have picked up a few anomalies and they will be addressed, such as the distance children have to walk to bus stops and students having to cross main roads."

But "at the end of the day" the bus network had to be redesigned with more direct routes and more buses with new technology which would provide passengers and parents with better information.

Door-to-door bus service was not an option, he said, and children across the country used public transport to get to school every day.

"I don't want parents and caregivers to lose sight of the fact of what we are trying to achieve for Tauranga and the Western Bay."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he had been receiving calls from concerned parents.

Mr Muller said he sympathised with the parents of children who would be disrupted by the changes and told them to submit feedback to the regional council.

"We want to maximise public participation in buses, but one of the greatest users of buses are kids so let's make sure it works for them too."

See the petition: https://www.change.org/p/continue-tauranga-school-hoppers?source_location=minibar
Read more about the proposed changes and have your say: http://www.drivechange.co.nz/schoolhopper
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.