A new ticketing system, and the potential for significant fare drops, have been welcomed by Hawke's Bay bus users.
The proposed Regional Integrated Ticketing System (RITS) would mean Hawke's Bay bus users could use the same fare card in nine regional councils across the country.
The system would also sit alongside a trial of a simplified fare structure to promote bus patronage.
The flat fee trial would price one-zone trips at $1 and two-zone fares at $2 when using a new "Bee Card". Fares fall 65 per cent in some cases.
Frequent bus user Janet Gurran said the new system would be welcomed by all.
"I use my goBay bus card at the moment, but I'd be more than interested in the new proposed card," she said.
"I already have a gold card, which means some journeys are free for me. But if it means others can go cheaper, then that would suit everyone."
Gurran, who got back on the bus for the first time since lockdown this week, said it had taken her 40 minutes walk each way to the supermarket, but with a decline in Covid-19 in the region she was happy to let it take her halfway home.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council agreed to implement the tag-on, tag-off Bee Card system and begin the trial of flat fees in August.
Regional Transport Committee chairman Councillor Martin Williams said the "big reduction in fares" will benefit all.
"We know more people use public transport when fares are cheaper, so we hope the new Bee Card system and simpler, flat-fare structure will herald the beginning of a 'step change' in public transport use in the region," he said.
"The hope is that options for more diverse, on-demand services complementing the existing core bus routes will become available following this review, and with council support in future."
Bus use was about 5 per cent of the usual patronage in Hawke's Bay during alert level 4, increasing to 15 per cent in alert level 3. GoBay buses recorded just 11.1 per cent of their usual patronage in level 3.
Under alert level 2, an estimated patronage of 30 per cent is expected for goBay buses, with the return of schools, among other factors.
Williams said passengers will be told how to make the switch when a definite date is confirmed for the new system, which forms part of the Regional Transport Study.
The Bee Card will also give HBRC data – not currently available – on passenger use, hot spots along the routes and fare collection, which will help to with network planning.
The trial depends on the NZ Transport Agency agreeing to fund some of the cost.