Sitting in traffic for long periods of time is now part of daily life in Tauranga.

It wasn't always this way. Yes, there were pinch points on the roading system but nothing like the gridlock we are experiencing now.

Our population has surged in recent years as the Tauranga lifestyle draws more and more people.

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More people means more cars on our roads.

It's clear that our roads have not kept up with this population growth. Roading, though, is only part of the solution. Improving public transport is equally, if not more, important, in my view.

Frustratingly, bus patronage is falling because of reliability issues caused by the gridlocked roads.

It sounds like a perfect storm.

Quarterly figures presented to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee last week show a drop in the number of people using buses.

Usage of Tauranga Bayhopper buses was down 6 per cent to just under 1.3 million users in the year to March, compared with the previous year.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee chairman Lyall Thurston says until infrastructure, and the proper electric bus fleet is in place, it will be a challenge to get people on to public transport.

It's not hard to see why people are opting out. In the year to March, 802 trips were delayed by more than 20 minutes, with traffic to blame in 78 per cent of cases.

Despite being only nine months into the financial year, the number of complaints about late or missing buses in Tauranga has already eclipsed the totals for each of the full previous years.

There is a lot of work to do.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford will welcome the council's feedback on improving Tauranga's bus services, as well as developing the rail network to the Port of Tauranga.

Perhaps the council could invite Twyford to spend a week experiencing the city's peak-hour traffic as part of its feedback. It might tell him all he needs to know.