Tauranga's new bus service is on track to be revealed this December and the outgoing contractor is expecting minimal job losses for drivers.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council announced in April it had awarded the Western Bay of Plenty bus contracts to NZ Bus which would take over from the current contractor, Go Bus.
Go Bus chief executive officer Nigel Piper said no Go Bus employees had moved over to NZ Bus as yet, but he expected a large number would.
He said it was still "early days" as Go Bus held the contract until December 9, but there were some options for Go Bus employees to consider, including the possibility of being deployed to other parts of the country.
"We want to ensure our workers are kept in employment and don't want to see any job losses," he said.
Piper said Go Bus had spoken to NZ Bus and he was keen to ensure the current staff were well looked after.
NZ Bus chief commercial officer Scott Thorne said the company had only recently started the recruitment process in Tauranga and expected to employ about 150 drivers to run the new contracts.
Thorne said the positions were open to all applicants and the initial interest had been encouraging.
"Our successful bid committed to offering drivers a rate that matched the living wage at the time," he said.
"NZ Bus has significant experience with implementing significant network change and is the ideal partner for Bay of Plenty Regional Council to move forward with all the exciting changes planned."
The winning price for the improved service was $14.8 million per annum, compared to the current cost of the existing contracts at about $12.8 million.
The new Bayhopper network would feature redesigned routes, new interchanges, extended operating hours and more frequent services, with a fleet of low-emission vehicles including five electric buses.
All buses would have bike racks, and customers will have access to real-time journey information and bus tracking.