Extra free bus hours for pensioners is on the cards following a meeting of Bay of Plenty's public transport officials.
The potential extension of existing free hours for SuperGold cardholders would now be considered after a review was presented at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee meeting today.
Transport policy manager Garry Maloney presented the review after gaining feedback earlier in the year that seniors wanted to access free bus travel after 3pm on weekdays, the same as their Auckland counterparts.
Currently, SuperGold cards allow free bus travel between the hours of 9am and 3pm and after 6.30pm on weekdays, and all day at weekends.
More hours would likely come as a cost to the council, Maloney said.
The review estimates the cost to be $60,000 per annum for Tauranga and $18,000 for Rotorua.
Maloney said the minority of seniors were travelling in the afternoon peak period and it was hard to know what the uptake would be.
"We can see that if you were to extend the scheme there would be a $30,000 per annum in Tauranga that you are currently getting through their fares you would no longer get.
He assumed a similar number would start travelling with free fares which meant another loss of $30,000.
Maloney recommended regional council consider extending the hours but it needed to consider the affordability through annual plan deliberations first.
Councillor Paula Thompson said she supported the notion, as it would encourage use of public transport.
"Providing more accessible services for older people is absolutely an outcome that we should be supporting," she said.