A community group fed up with "ridiculous" traffic woes are taking their fight to the streets and the city's council chambers.
Members of Welcome Bay Transport Forum handed out nearly 500 flyers to motorists stuck in traffic at Welcome Bay Rd's typical chokepoint yesterday morning to gain support for their cause. However, they were asked to move on shortly later by police with 10 flyers to go.
The forum wants a range of actions to address traffic issues in the area. It wants the 15th Ave, and Turret Rd upgrade project be given an upgraded priority, that the council supports the retrial of free school bus services in the Welcome Bay area and the implementation of a separated cycleway between Welcome Bay and the CBD.
The group was scheduled to meet with Tauranga City Council on Thursday to present a submission on the draft Long-Term Plan, offering several solutions to the suburb's worsening transport issues.
Group member Maleta Knight said traffic issues in the Welcome Bay area had become so bad "everybody's sick of it".
"It just seems ridiculous that a commute that would take 15 minutes in the weekend takes an hour Monday to Thursday. So we've tried to come up with some short-term and long-term solutions.
"The first one is that we want the school buses to the boys' college, girls' college and intermediate to be free for the people to Welcome Bay and Ohauiti because we don't have a school out here. We have no choice but to travel into town."
Knight said there used to be free buses but now, a family with three children could spend $600 a year on each child.
"If you think about the demographic, it doesn't really cut it. There are so many people who can't afford that."
Another point was a plea for the council to halt housing developments in Welcome Bay until more could be done to improve the area's infrastructure. There were already 3000 houses in the process of being built in the area which could not be stopped, Knight said.
"It's ridiculous to put more houses in when the streets and the roads can't cope with the traffic," she said.
"People just want the council to start doing something for Welcome Bay because it's like there's all this development that's happening ... but where's the investment in our local community?
"It's not going to be the end of it, that's for sure. We are determined to make ourselves heard and shout the loudest; then they might actually listen."
Welcome Bay Community Centre manager Anna Larsen said if Welcome Bay was expected to take on some of the city's projected growth "we need to get the infrastructure".
"One of the ways of doing this is reinstating the free school buses."
Larsen said the group already had a submission into Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which the main authority on local school buses, but with the city council's support "we hope this is a way to encourage regional council to hear our voice".
Councillor Bill Grainger threw his weight in support of the group and said the options were completely feasible.
"If we can fill the chambers full of people it will make other councillors know that these guys are serious."
In response to the group's suggested plan of action, Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes said the council was aiming to start work on the first stage of the 15th Ave improvements before the end of the year.
"The larger 15th Ave upgrade will be a lengthy and disruptive piece of work. We need to time it carefully so that it doesn't clash with the Baylink project. Having two major construction projects under way at the same time along two major transport routes will create much more disruption than people are seeing now."
He said the council supported the implementation of a separated cycleway between Welcome Bay and the CBD.
"There's a separated cycleway as part of the new Maungatapu underpass, and a separated cycleway is a key part of the planned 15th Ave improvements. We'll be looking for opportunities to complete the separated cycle link along Turret Rd."
Voice of the people
The Welcome Bay Transport Forum submission proposes five key points:
1.That the 15th Ave and Turret Rd upgrade project be given an upgraded priority.
2. The council supports the (re)trial of free school bus services in the Welcome Bay area.
3. The council supports the trial of a free commuter bus service in the Welcome Bay area.
4. The council supports the implementation of a separated cycleway between Welcome Bay and the CBD.
5. The council halts further housing development in Welcome Bay until the traffic infrastructure has been improved.
The Welcome Bay Transport Forum will meet with Tauranga City Council in council chambers at 7pm on Thursday to submit solutions to help alleviate the suburb's traffic congestion issues.