It would cost each ratepayer in Tauranga about $38 a year to make school buses free for students across the city.

That was according to estimates put together by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Public Transport Committee, which was preparing to trial free school buses for Welcome Bay students from Term 1 next year.

Committee's chairman Councillor Lyall Thurston said the regional council, operator of the Bay's bus network, was considering looking into removing Schoolhopper fares in Tauranga as part of a region-wide review of bus fares scheduled for 2019.

Thurston said the idea was solely about getting more cars off the road to "take the pressure off" the city's congestion.

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"It will be a targeted rate if it ever sees the light of day."

He said the council would seek feedback from the Tauranga community about the idea, possibly in conjunction with other Tauranga City Council bus-related projects.

Regional councillor Stuart Crosby said that in the current rating year, the average Tauranga ratepayer would pay $137 towards public transport in their regional council rates, up from $62 in 2017-18.

Making school buses free would add about another $38 to the bill.

From 2019 the regional council's redesigned school bus network will service 16 schools with 30 routes, down from 50 routes this year.


Schoolhopper statistics

For the year to September 2018:

- 141,449 trips
- Patronage down 4.4 per cent on the year before
- Revenue from passengers of $198,826
- Revenue down 4.3 per cent on the previous year

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Source: Bay of Plenty Regional Council