Public Transport Update

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Public transport
Bay Of Plenty Regional Council in Tauranga, New Zealand on Thursday, 7 March 2019. Photo: Dave Lintott / lintottphoto.co.nz

Hi, I’m Namouta Poutasi, the General Manager of Strategy & Science at Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana, and I am the senior manager responsible for the delivery of public transport services.

The new Western Bay Tauranga bus network, launched on 10th December last year,
represented a significant change in the delivery of public transport in the Western
Bay of Plenty sub-region – with the aim of providing a high-performance network which is frequent, reliable and direct now, and for our city of the future.

As many readers will be aware, a key challenge at the start of the new contract was the large amount of missed trips due to the shortage of bus drivers, particularly in February.

We acknowledge this was unacceptable, and we responded by bringing on additional resources.

Addressing Performance Issues

Regional Council is using all of the remedies available under our NZBus service contract to address performance issues. We agreed with NZBus to contract two external operators to cover the school network and these are in place until the end of this year.

We have also responded to feedback from the community about some route changes, and are working with NZ Bus to make some changes as soon as is practically possible. These include reinstating Route 36 from Pāpāmoa and Maungatapu to the CBD during peak hours, and a 5km extension to east Pāpāmoa.

New Routes Introduced

In the inter and off-peak period, a new route will be introduced between Maungatapu and the CBD, including an extension to include Te Hono Street and Maihi Crescent.

The former Route 70 service in Matua will be re-introduced during off-peak hours, and twice during peak hours, while the current peak service route will remain.

As a result of all of these changes, the reliability and performance of our public transport service has improved significantly in recent weeks, with 98.8% trips operating during March. We are looking for further improvements in the coming months.

Our Public Transport Committee receives regular updates from NZBus, and these are available to everyone through our website, along with a number of presentations and papers. The minutes from our most recent Public Transport Committee meeting, including questions and responses, are also all available on our website.

A legal review of the procurement process used to appoint NZBus was also undertaken. For those who would like more detail, the review and findings can be found on page 107 of this report.

In summary, the report has determined that a thorough recruitment process was undertaken, including external legal advice, ensuring the integrity and due process was followed. All necessary approvals were obtained by NZTA.

Partnering for Improvements

The Western Bay of Plenty Blueprint was developed and agreed to by partners to
help address congestion challenges in the city now, but just as importantly, it is focused on ensuring our public transport network can support the city of the future.

The congestion that our city is experiencing has developed over many years, and it
cannot be fixed overnight. We are working closely with all of our public transport
partners, including Tauranga City Council (who are responsible for infrastructure,
such as bus stops and shelters), NZBus (who operate our buses) and others to
implement the new network and contract.

We remain confident that the Blueprint will ultimately contribute to a more efficient
network – now and for the future.

-By Namouta Poutasi