Bay of Plenty Regional Council is exploring alternative school bus options to help make the Tauranga Urban bus service more reliable.

Contractor NZ Bus needs 150 drivers to fully operate the current Tauranga Bayhopper network, but since it began on December 10 has faced problems with a driver shortage affecting network reliability. The company is currently 30 drivers short of this target.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Fiona McTavish says discussions with NZ Bus to resolve current bus issues are progressing well, with NZ Bus welcoming the Regional Council exploring alternative school bus options. This would allow NZ Bus to concentrate on the reliability of the urban network, the council said in a statement.

"We are pleased that our contract discussions are allowing us to look at the options available to us to get this situation resolved as soon as possible for our communities," McTavish said.

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"We are now talking with other bus companies and hope to have a solution to the issue in the next couple of weeks. Once we've confirmed the timing for these changes, we will let our communities know."

GM Operations NZ Bus Claire Neville said the company welcomed the alternative school bus options as a means of providing assistance while NZ Bus secured the full requirement of bus drivers.

"Recruitment is progressing well since the end of the school holidays and we expect that NZ Bus will have the required number of bus drivers to operate all our contracted services on the Western Bay of Plenty bus network in the near term."

- Supplied copy