Tauranga's central business district is becoming a "frightening place" amid a spike in anti-social behaviour around the city's Willow St bus terminal.
NZ Bus says drivers have been assaulted, robbed and verbally abused in recent months and Downtown Tauranga, which represents retailers in the area, is concerned about public safety and the effect the behaviour is having on the city's reputation.
Agencies have been working to address the problem and a regional councillor believes moving the bus terminal was one possible solution.
A spokesperson for NZ Bus said drivers reported 28 incidents in September and October. including abusive language and aggressive behaviour.
There were a handful of robberies or attempted robberies of driver cashboxes and personal belongings. Five of the more serious incidents were reported to police.
The spokesperson said a female passenger suffered a broken wrist on November 6 after another passenger allegedly pushed her. Police confirmed a woman had been charged with injuring with intent and was due to appear in court.
''When an incident occurs, we have a policy where we immediately relieve the driver from duty and offer them counselling. CCTV footage in our buses is always retrieved as part of our investigation,'' the spokesperson said.
The bus company had was now training new recruits how to de-escalate abusive passengers and in the new year would ensure all staff had the same training.
The company was working closely with police and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which it contracts to, on strategies to ensure passengers could travel safely.
First Union organiser Graham McKean said CBD was becoming a ''frightening place''.
He had met a driver who was ''verbally harassed and aggressively set upon'' recently in Tauranga.
''A person threw full beer cans at the bus and sprayed the driver with beer after being told he could not get on the bus because he was drunk.''
McKean said it was unacceptable and members of the community were also at risk.
''It's a big, glaring open wound of an issue.''
Downtown Tauranga spokeswoman Sally Cooke said the organisation was working with the police and council but continued to receive reports of intimation and aggressive behaviour in Willow St and other hotspots.
She acknowledged there had been significant improvement in lowering the number of beggars and rough sleepers in doorways compared to last year.
However, disruptive and antisocial behaviour at any time was not acceptable.
''It not only affects those involved but also the reputation of the city centre. People visiting, working or living in our city centre should be made to feel safe and protected.''
There had also been incidents inside businesses and Cooke said Downtown Tauranga encouraged its members to report any criminal activity to the police.
Cooke said if public transport was to be encouraged, providing a safe interchange and bus network was a priority.
''Additionally, we want our city centre business owners and their staff to be able to operate unfettered from undesirable behaviour and intimidation and we want people visiting our city to have an enjoyable and safe time. For the number of people frequenting the city each and every day we don't want a few people to have the power to ruin it for the many.''
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council runs the bus network in Tauranga - managing routes and contracting NZ Bus - and the Tauranga City Council is responsible for bus infrastructure.
Regional councillor and chairman of the Public Transport Committee Andrew von Dadelszen said the council was working with bus drivers and other organisations including the police to address issues in the CBD.
''We are absolutely adamant our drivers and our community has to feel safe.''
Resolution was not easy, he said.
''These people basically get high on drugs or alcohol and they are looking for an audience as much as anything so it can be really tricky.''
One solution could be moving the Willow St bus terminal, he said.
Tauranga City Council community services general manager Gareth Wallis said the council was aware of the concerns and was talking to Maori wardens about resuming their patrols at the bus stop.
''Tauranga City Council continues to work collaboratively with police, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, mainstreet organisations and social agencies to address areas of concern within the CBD.''
The council was in discussion with the Māori wardens who previously provided a presence at the Willow St bus stop about resuming that.
It and other agencies were also looking at security, city ambassadors and collaborating more with businesses and licenced premises.
Last month, a Tauranga dad spoke in a public council meeting about his "terrified" daughter's fear after she was approached at the bus stop by a man who made sexually charged comments to her.
Tauranga police response manager Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said police patrolled the area regularly, in vehicles and on foot.
"We engage in high profile mobile and foot patrols in the area, at various times of the night and day."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce engagement co-ordinator Anne Pankhurst said rather than looking at individual hotspots, the CBD needed a clear strategic view.
"When we continue to focus on individual aspects of the city, we cannot see all of the challenges. This will result in simply transferring issues around the city instead of finding long-term solutions."
"The city needs to be seen in its entirety, and then questions of what is happening and where, and where do we see the CBD in five to 10 years' time, will be answered."