Bay of Plenty Regional Council says it is reviewing its SuperGold Card bus operating hours following requests from the community to extend them.
The nationwide scheme allows eligible card holders (aged 65 and over) free bus travel between the hours of 9am and 3pm and after 6.30pm on weekdays, and all day at weekends.
At the recent Public Transport Committee meeting staff explained recent changes to the SuperGold Card travel scheme now meant that councils were bulk funded as opposed to being reimbursed on a per-trip basis as they had been previously and they believed the opportunity was there to make changes to how the scheme ran in the Bay of Plenty.
Public Transport Committee chairman Lyall Thurston said Auckland seniors had access to the travel concession from 9am onwards and the rationale behind limiting the hours everywhere except Auckland, was that there was limited capacity on buses outside of 9am and 3pm.
"The current restrictions on travel times for SuperGold Card holders are limiting their ability to travel freely and the current justification for restricting travel hours does not necessarily hold true in the Bay of Plenty," Thurston said in a statement.
"There are very few areas of the public bus network that are at full capacity between 3pm and 6.30pm and there is likely to be little or no impact on bus users."
Staff would report their findings back to the next PT Committee meeting in May.
The committee also approved an internal review of the wider Tauranga bus network which would be delivered from July 2019 onwards with community engagement playing an important part.
The community was also being consulted on Regional Council's 2019/20 annual plan, which would help inform future decisions around public transport.
The public was being specifically asked for feedback about some potential trials of commuter services between Rotorua, Katikati and Whakatāne to Tauranga, and fare-free travel for Tauranga school students.
Both of these trials were aimed at reducing peak-time congestion on the roads.
Those who wanted to have their say on the wider proposals as part of the Annual Plan process can do so until May 6 at www.boprc.govt.nz/annualplan.