A decision to extend discounted hours on public transport to Bay of Plenty pensioners has been heralded as a success.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Public Transport Committee was told today there had been an increase of SuperGold cardholders travelling via bus in Tauranga, Rotorua and the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
This comes within the first two weeks of free bus travel for Bay residents aged 65 or over.
On August 19, 2019, the regional council introduced extended hours for SuperGold cardholders. The decision allowed SuperGold cardholders free bus travel on the Bay of Plenty's regional network from 9am on weekdays and all day on weekends.
Regional council acting communications team leader Matt Hunt told the committee there had been notable growth in patronage since, with an average 7.9 per cent increase throughout the region.
In Tauranga, there was a 10 per cent increase; in Rotorua there was a 2.2 per cent increase; in the Eastern Bay there was a 3.8 per cent increase. However, patronage in Te Puke had dropped 26 per cent.
"The decision to extend the hours has been a success in the eyes of SuperGold cardholders," Hunt said.
The regional council reviewed the hours following requests from the community and the change was adopted as part of the council's Annual Plan 2019/20.
Councillor Paula Thompson paid tribute to social gerontologist Carole Gordon who lobbied for the hours, commending her efforts.
Gordon said the results were "marvellous".
Regional council general manager of strategy and science Namouta Poutasi said last month the changes would allow SuperGold cardholders to travel for free throughout the day, except for in the early morning commuter peak.
The monthly average for SuperGold boardings this year across the region has been 35,800 or just under 1200 per day.