Bus fares from Tauranga are a fraction of the price of a flight, a bus operator says.
Yesterday, the Bay of Plenty Times revealed a trip to Auckland from Tauranga Airport was only $100 cheaper than a trip from Auckland to Sydney. Air New Zealand said there were a number of factors that determined fare prices, including operating costs such as fuel, airways charges, airport landing and navigation costs, and passenger demand for a particular route.
Looking at comparisons of the country's two major bus service providers, InterCity and Naked Bus, fares to six North Island destinations from Tauranga were under $55, compared to a $395 plane ticket from Tauranga to Palmerston North.
Hamish Nuttall, Naked Bus founder, said a survey in August had showed its tickets were, on average, 10 per cent of the cost of flying within New Zealand.
He said bus prices had come down substantially since the company was founded eight years ago.
"For instance, in 2006 bus travel between Auckland and Rotorua cost $68. We now charge an average of $22."
The average Naked Bus fare across the network was $21, Mr Nuttall said. Prices were not strictly based on the distance to travel, but on how popular the route was. "They are set at a level that will encourage plenty of travellers so we can fill our buses. If we are more expensive than another provider, that is because our buses are more popular and these buses are nearly full.
"Our prices flex according to demand. On quieter days we sell many more cheap seats and, on busier days, we sell fewer cheap seats. This is because we have a fixed capacity and we encourage more people to travel on less busy days."
Mr Nuttall said while a flight was quicker than a bus trip in actual travel time, the time to get from point A to point B was comparable between buses and planes once factoring in time spent at airports.
"Our service from Tauranga to Auckland takes around three-and-a-half hours. This seems a lot longer than the plane, but once you factor getting to the airport, checking in, getting your bag at the other end and getting from the airport, the time is about the same, yet our average price is around $20."
Sam Peate, InterCity general manager, said the company's bus fares started from $1 and increased thereafter based on the amount of demand and seat capacity.
"Generally the further ahead you book, the cheaper your fare will be. Also, it is normally cheapest to travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when demand is lower."
Mr Peate said Intercity was New Zealand's largest passenger land transport operator with multiple departures throughout the day, therefore there were pricing variances depending on departure time.
"The range of over 500 destinations across New Zealand and frequent departures is one of the reasons InterCity is enjoying strong growth in passenger demand. Passengers also appreciate the convenience of having two pieces of luggage included free and no hidden fees."