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Rush hour became hush hour in the city yesterday morning - the first day of a lockdown imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 and save lives.
Traffic monitoring data provided to the Bay of Plenty Times illustrated the immediate impact of the stay home order.
The average speed on key commuter routes between 7am and 9am was up to eight times faster than normal thanks to the lack of congestion.
Maungatapu Rd to 15th Ave - including the Turret Rd bridge - was flowing at 56km/h yesterday, eight times faster than it's usual 7km/h crawl over the past five weeks.
Totara St - despite the Port of Tauranga remaining open - was five times quicker than usual and on Hewletts Rd the average was three times faster.
The Government has instructed that only essential service providers should have staff on the roads for work purposes.
Among them yesterday were many professional drivers, working to get the Western Bay's kiwifruit harvest to port for export and ensuring supply chains for food production and essential supplies kept moving.
Tauranga-based courier driver Karene said the birdsong in Grey St was "deafening" yesterday.
"Most people wouldn't realise there were a lot of birds in Grey St."
Moving around the city was a totally different experience: "I can get a carpark anywhere I want, there's no double parking, no one in my loading zone."
She likened the "eerie" and "quiet" city to Tombstone, Arizona, or a "ghost town".
"I half expected two cowboys to come out and start shooting at each other."
"Phil the traffic warden" was also nowhere to be seen, she said.
Tauranga City Council announced later yesterday it would not be collecting parking fees from today for the remainder of the Covid-19 level 4 alert lockdown, applying to parking buildings and both on- and off-street spaces.
Of several haulage companies the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to yesterday, only one reported a driver had been stopped by police to check it was an essential service. This was in Taupo.
In the Western Bay, Taylor Bros driver Nick Murray had the best trip he'd ever had from Pyes Pa to Katikati before heading over the Kaimai Range to Matamata.
There were a few cars on the way there and a few trucks on the way back but there were no hold-ups.
"It was a joy to be out there."
Usually, he found Tauranga's traffic "infuriating", especially after moving to the city from the wide-open spaces of Christchurch.
Omokoroa General Carriers director John Leek said the usual hour-long morning peak trip to Tauranga was down to 20 minutes yesterday.
"One worker coming into town passed only three cars."
He said he still had 20 trucks on the road, mainly carting flour to Auckland and kiwifruit to port.
Raymond Transport manager Mat Greenland said it was generally "business as usual" for the company, which mainly hauled in and out of the Port of Tauranga.
There were 10 trucks out yesterday moving mainly containers with the likes of stockfeed, dairy products and kiwifruit.
The period before the lockdown started had been "flat out" but it leveled out a bit yesterday.
He said there was a bit of anxiety around, but there were strict rules in place for hygiene and safety, including contactless systems.
Yesterday the Port of Tauranga announced new measures to prioritise urgent imported cargo during the lockdown.
The measures allow importers to identify imported cargo required for essential services before it arrived in New Zealand so that it can be handled and transported first.
Some deadlines had been extended and charges removed to help avoid blocking the path of essential food, medicine, equipment and other supplies.
Truck driver Joe Purvis, co-owner of Broadlands-based Jaks Haulage, said another upside of the quiet roads was a significant reduction in "dickheads doing risky passing manoeuvres".
Comparing the average speed on Tauranga commuter routes in the morning peak yesterday (7am-9am), and the average for the previous five weeks.
Maungatapu Rd to 15th Ave
Source: Tauranga Transport Operations Centre