Living wage for Bay Hopper bus drivers

Bay Hopper bus drivers will be paid the living wage when NZ Bus takes over local contracts for Bay of Plenty Regional Council in December. File photo.

Bay Hopper bus drivers will be paid the living wage when NZ Bus takes over the Western Bay of Plenty bus contracts in December.

It’s one of many changes coming to local bus services after the Bay of Plenty Regional Council awarded four major contracts to the company.

NZ Bus will operate the new and improved network once the current contracts held by Go Bus, Reesby Rotorua Ltd, Bethlehem Coachlines and Uzabus expire in December this year.

The new Bayhopper network will feature redesigned routes, new interchanges, extended operating hours and more frequent services with a fleet of low-emission vehicles including five state of the art electric buses.  All buses will have bike racks and customers will have access to real time journey information and bus tracking.

The winning price for the improved service is $14.8 million per annum, compared to the current cost of the existing contracts at about $12.8 million.  

Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee chairman Lyall Thurston says the tender process was highly competitive for the nine-year contract that will enhance public transport in Tauranga by building on the great work undertaken by Go Bus and other contractors.

“Firstly it’s important we acknowledge the previous nine years of dedicated service undertaken by Go Bus. Their management and staff should be proud of the contribution they have made to our growing region and we will be sad to see that relationship end. All of the proposals were strong and the council acknowledges the time and effort put into them.

“Ultimately NZ Bus presented the best combination of price and quality for Tauranga ratepayers. The procurement team were particularly taken with the increased driver pay offered by NZ Bus,” says Lyall.

NZ Bus come to the Bay of Plenty with a wealth of knowledge and experience in large scale public transport operations and currently hold contracts with Auckland Transport and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames says they are delighted to be selected to operate the Tauranga bus services.

“We’re looking forward to a productive partnership with the Council and to provide a quality service to customers and the exciting changes being implemented by the council will transform the experience for the public, and we are excited to be a part of that."

The tender process was delayed after strong public engagement and feedback on the proposed network during the public engagement period in 2017.

As a result staff took considerable time to further understand and incorporate all the input and make some adjustments to the proposed routes including spending time working with schools to develop school-led transport solutions.  

Lyall says that although the announcement of the tender process represents a culmination of a lot of work it’s really only the beginning when it comes to improved public transport in Tauranga.

“The enhanced bus network launching in December represents a landmark date in the Tauranga transport space but we won’t be complacent and it’s important we continue to work with staff and our partners at Tauranga City Council, Western Bay District Council and New Zealand Transport Agency to seek further improvements including bus priority measures and adapting to any advancements in technology. 

“We are also aware that one in five people in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty identify with a disability that impacts on their daily life. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council maintains its ongoing commitment to the disability sector hence all buses will be fully accessible.”

The public transport contract is funded from fares from passengers using the service, by the NZ Transport Agency through the National Land Transport Fund, and from council through rates.

Details of the new network including specific routes and timetable information will be released later in the year and schools will receive information relating to school bus routes near the end of term two.

Key facts with this new contract are:

  •   •  New contract hourly rate for bus drivers is living wage

  •   •  The bus network has been redesigned to provide more direct routes and stronger connections between areas outside of the Tauranga CBD

  •   •  There will be 50 per cent more buses running on most services and express services to growth areas

  •   •  There will be more capacity, with 50 per cent more seats on most buses

  •   •  The entire fleet will be wheelchair accessible

  •   •  We will be transitioning to a low carbon fleet of vehicles, starting with five electric vehicles in December 2018

  •   •  New features include bike racks on buses and real-time bus journey technology

  •   •  Weekend services in Tauranga will run every 30 minutes, instead of every hour, providing users with more choice, convenience and reliability daily, ensuring that public transport is an option for recreational and social trips

  •   •  City Loop - connecting Mount Maunganu, Bayfair, CBD and Tauranga Hospital every 15 minutes – extending to Greerton in 2020

  •   •  Services to Omokoroa and Katikati doubled

  •   •  Te Puke will have hourly return services between 7am and 6pm

  •   •  Papamoa Express – travel time comparable to cars during peaks

  •   •  Goldline – providing off-peak services to retirement homes, cruise ship terminal and Mount Hot Pools

  •   •  Crosstown Connector – Linking Bayfair, Welcome Bay, Toi Ohomai Windermere campus

  •   •  Shorter trips including new Matua and Otumoetai routes

  •   •  More connectivity with Brookfield, Greerton, Arataki and Hairini as hubs/interchanges

  •   •  More frequent buses and extended coverage in areas like Welcome Bay

  •   •  Significant enhancement of The Lakes to CBD express service

  •   •  As demand increases hours are extended to 9pm on core services and as late as 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights

  •   •  Saturday services added for Katikati, Omokoroa and Te Puke

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Tender / Contract services

Posted on 10-04-2018 12:24 | By Dazed and Confused

Normally have to declare what they are paying staff. The idea in contacting services out to reduce the wage bill. Any extra on the rate will be built into the contract and ........Be paid for by the rate payer Not the user. So the company tendering will Tell the other party what the staff will be paid . Its a sweeter trick to get in good with the nice people who put the contract out in the fist place.

NZ Bus

Posted on 10-04-2018 06:40 | By theatre goer

Does the council not realise that NZ Bus has lost contracts in South Auckland and Greater Wellington? Why choose a company that is losing contracts not gaining? Also Infrotel are now looking to sell off NZ Bus, so that may be why they offered a "good" tender in order to increase a sale price for the company and not based on the true cost of the operation. More due diligence needed at the council?

@ Capt_Kaveman

Posted on 10-04-2018 06:16 | By MISS ADVENTURE

In offical-land, it is planned success and wonders to behold. sadly out in the real world it is a compelte disaster, look like, feels like and every aspect is.... it must then be!

@ Willie Basher

Posted on 10-04-2018 06:14 | By MISS ADVENTURE

2-3 is normal and that includes the driver.

If you build it.....

Posted on 09-04-2018 19:03 | By GreertonCynic

They will come. And I seriously doubt it’s a decrease. Any worker in any service industry want to shout out to their boss who’s paying more than the minimum? The minimum wage with a WINZ top-up (accommodation, etc..) boils down to corporate welfare. Also...six people on a bus is six fewer cars on the road. 10 x busses with six bods on board means you can get to that next red light soo much quicker.

C'mon guys. Fair go eh?

Posted on 09-04-2018 17:28 | By astex

Up until now bus drivers pay has been way below fair considering the responsibility of the job. If ANY worker can get a fair wage then more power to them. I use the bus quite often and have always found the drivers friendly and helpful although there may well be the odd bad apple that i have not met yet. As far as their driving standards, try driving a large vehicle yourself with the standard of driving you share the road with. They run to a timetable and must get really peed off when people do not let them into the traffic flow just to save a few seconds off their trip. More buses hopefully means more use and less traffic. And, as far as a waste of money goes, sometimes it pays to lose money on one service if it results in saving money elsewhere (roading)

More money down the pan

Posted on 09-04-2018 16:20 | By Willie Basher

Why is there a need for more buses and more seating? I have yet to see any bus with more than 6 people on it. Hopefully the ’new’ drivers will slow down and cheer up a bit now they are cashed up.

Pay increase?

Posted on 09-04-2018 16:02 | By Macolnz

Is this a pay increase or decrease and will they introduce tag on and off as they have on their Auckland buses?


Posted on 09-04-2018 15:33 | By Capt_Kaveman

and some of their drivers is the most shocking ive seen, i have been to many in nz and oz and what a shambles