The amount of money made through Rotorua bus fares has dropped by more than a fifth as the number of people who caught buses in the past year declined.
A new Bay of Plenty Regional Council report into public transport for the 2018/19 financial year showed patronage on Rotorua CityRide buses dropped 12.9 per cent in the last year and revenue was down $17,066 or 22.2 per cent.
But a new trial service to Mamaku could affect those figures in the coming year.
The report, presented to the regional council's Public Transport Committee on Friday, showed the cost of operating bus services across the region had increased by 3.9 per cent in the last 12 months according to the NZ Transport Agency cost escalation index.
Some of the things affecting public transport were increasing per capita vehicle ownership and growth in households with access to multiple vehicles.
"The environment is changing from where public transport is required at least for some trips to one where almost every trip is in direct competition with use of the private motor vehicle," the report said.
In the 2018/19 financial year, there were 554,884 trips on Rotorua CityRide buses, down from about 700,000 in the 2016/17 financial year.
Of those 241,601 were during weekday peak times, a 9.6 per cent reduction on the previous year. There were 239,827 off-peak trips, a 15.9 per cent reduction, and 73,456 weekend trips, a 12.7 per cent reduction.
Despite the reductions, SmartCard and Super Gold Card patronage increased by 6.5 and 6.8 per cent respectively.
The report said this had been driven by the scrapping of the SmartCard issuance fee.
Well-loved Rotorua teacher loses battle with cancer
Murupara community reeling after four killed in horror crash
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Rotorua councillor Lyall Thurston said the council continued to encourage people to use public transport and focused on disadvantaged people who relied on public transport.
"I'm totally committed to providing effective public transport for those who need it," Thurston said.
"I think there would be a very negative reaction if we pulled a service.
"People tend to use public transport when there are fluctuations in fuel prices ... We just continue to promote it so everyone is aware of the service, what's provided and that it's there to be used."
Thurston said long-term and annual plan consultation gave people chances to give feedback on transport services.
Meanwhile, a push for a Mamaku trial bus service is coming to fruition after it was promised in the council's 2019/20 Annual Plan.
Staff have released a closed contest with three local operators to get a quote for the service and the council expects an appointment will be made by the end of August with the service starting shortly after that.
Thurston said there had been a long-standing call from Mamaku to have the service and the council was "delighted to be pushing another service into an area". It is expected to run morning and night once a week for 12 months.
Mamaku Residents' Association chairwoman Wendy Roe, who helped advocate for the service, said residents were "living in anticipation".
"There's some excitement but it's waning a bit because of the delay. But some things are worth waiting for.
"When we submitted to the transport committee we told them '25 years is a long time between buses'."
Roe said it would be interesting to see how well the trial service was used.
"It will be a wait and see. We've been self-reliant for 25 years.
"We're encouraged we're getting something and once it does start operating it will become apparent what people really want."
Rural Community Board chairwoman Shirley Trumper said the trial service would help meet the aim of not having an isolated community in Mamaku.
With a population of about 700, Trumper said growth in the area had been "phenomenal".
"We've got a lot of people that have sold up in town and moved up there to be mortgage-free.
"People just know Mamaku is a great place to live and we just need to get the service in there and get some momentum and drive behind it and community enthusiasm and it should go from there."
Trumper said the service was taking time to come to fruition but she was hopeful residents would support the service.
"It's a cost to ratepayers which they are paying for in their rates already. They need to make the most of utilising that service.
"It's going to need a whole new drive to get the word out once it's established."