A trial of free school buses for Tauranga students will be investigated with urgency.
There was widespread support among councillors at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's public transport committee meeting yesterday to have the idea of free school buses explored as a way to cut down traffic congestion, especially, in the Welcome Bay area.
Welcome Bay resident Anna Larsen told the meeting the introduction of free school buses would benefit the wider Tauranga community.
Larsen said Welcome Bay's traffic issues began when free buses for school students were cut three years ago.
She said for many families who had multiple children it was cheaper to drive them to school.
"Parents are too proud to admit they can't afford to put their kids on the bus. We need to shift commuter patterns," Larsen said.
Councillors and staff from Tauranga City Council also attended the meeting, among them Terry Molloy who said there was strong support on the council for an urgent trial.
"Our main objective is getting people on to buses. The best way to change these habits is to start with the kids," Molloy said.
Committee chairman and regional councillor Lyall Thurston said transport staff from both councils had been instructed to collaboratively prepare a plan for the trial - with urgency.
He expected the trial would focus on Welcome Bay as that was "undoubtedly the hotspot" for the issue.
Thurston said the councils acknowledged there was a huge congestion problem, and said a trial was needed to determine whether or not free school buses could be a "silver bullet" for the issues.