SunLive         

TCC hovering over control of buses

Control of the big yellows – who stands to gain?

The Government has cleared the way for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to divest itself of the problematic Tauranga city bus services and for Tauranga City Council to take control.

“I think it’s important the buses come under one authority,” says Tauranga Mayor, Tenby Powell. “And if you want my personal opinion, I would prefer the TCC owned it lock, stock and barrel.”

But that will be up for discussion between the two councils.

At the moment the Bay of Plenty Regional Council runs the buses and the routes, and the Tauranga City Council is responsible for the infrastructure like the bus stops. “It simply doesn’t work,” says Tenby.

Previously such a plan was prevented under the Regional Council Act, but the act has been amended, paving the way for an opportunity to have that discussion.

“The advantages would be significant,” says the Mayor. “The city would be much better off. We would manage the contract and everything that comes with it under one roof. At the moment two authorities are trying to manage 50 per cent of one whole which means a lack of co-ordination. It doesn’t necessarily work well.”

Former Mayor and now regional councillor Stuart Crosby agrees there needs to be “closer alignment in delivery of the bus service,” but suggests there doesn’t need to be one entity owning it.

“I have been of the mind for some time that we should develop an integrated bus centre that both the regional and city councils co-habit and can still be paid by the same employer. That would bring closer alignment.”

One option is to use the new legislation and transfer control of the buses to the TCC or transfer the infrastructure to the BOPRC - one or the other. And that’s the discussion to be had.

But Stuart agrees that if one entity ran the buses, there would be stronger integration.

At the moment the buses are funded by a NZTA subsidy, the fare box and targeted rate imposed by the regional council on Tauranga ratepayers. The infrastructure is funded in part by the ratepayer and “quite a good” NZTA subsidy.

But how would things change out on the road if the TCC took charge? Would a transfer of control coax commuters onto largely empty “big yellows” charging round city streets?

“We are working very hard to learn why that is and the lack of alignment certainly seem to be, in part, the problem.”

The Mayor says the TCC needs to make buses a more viable option – “a more normal modus for the people who choose to use them. We would hope we can encourage more people onto the buses with a service that will enable them to do so. That’s the plan”.

Stuart Crosby says he would strongly advocate for continued investment in a public transport system that works for the community and alleviates congestion on our roads, regardless of who runs it. “I am sure if we had a system that worked for the majority of people, then they would use. But we haven’t got it right yet, not by a long shot.

“We are looking at smaller buses, we have a lot of students using the buses, and we are proposing free fares for school kids – that will make a big difference. But the whole public transport system is a work in progress.”

A priority will be that discussion to decide who controls the city’s bus services - the regional or city council.

More on SunLive...
14 Comments
You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now

TCC can't afford it

Posted on 10-12-2019 14:22 | By Northboro

TCC’s debt level is already high. Taking on a struggling bus service is the last thing our TCC ratepayers need (or want).

Give the man a go

Posted on 01-12-2019 14:57 | By

He is trying hard to sort out persistent problems in many areas that previous mayors have not cured. Some smaller buses sounds good but are they easily available and cost effective, do other cities use them, I haven’t seen them. Have the planning people use various routes is a good idea too

$ spent

Posted on 30-11-2019 16:44 | By Wonkytonk

If the service was improved with time and price i would certainly use it. If the cost is take out a lane for buses and provide some park n ride hubs then thats even better. Plus is normal for any city!!

Open the work to more competition.

Posted on 29-11-2019 20:13 | By Cynical Me

Allow individuals to run buses on routes that work for the customers. Until the Law is changed so that can happen nothing will change. There is not a single reason for ratepayers nor taxpayers to pay for other peoples transport. Open the job to competition, real competition unlike the faux tendering garbage that it currently s. Let those that can service the customers get the job done.

Credibility.

Posted on 29-11-2019 19:14 | By morepork

I agree that TCC lack credibility based on past projects. Nevertheless, it would seem that having a single, local Authority controlling the Buses would make more sense. It is also true that there would be more accountability than at present. Smaller buses, at least initially, makes a lot of sense, but the real key to success for the buses is the routes they will run.

Big bus, little bus no difference

Posted on 29-11-2019 18:43 | By Sollygirl

It makes sense for one council to control all aspects of the bus service but there is a lesson here for the council that ends up doing the job: you cannot skimp on funding the service, something both TCC and Regional Council are guilty of. Focus on reliability and frequency and people will come. Make the price attractive ($1, $2) and they will come. Make all day parking in the CBD prohibitive and they will give up their cars. Provide excellent bus shelters and plan for park and rides and they will come. The test is “is it as quick and cheap for me to ride the bus as drive my car?”

I would like to see

Posted on 29-11-2019 18:41 | By earlybird

more bus shelters. I don’t know about other areas but we have very few here in Welcome Bay. Standing in the hot sun or pouring rain does not endear us to using buses

Use smaller buses during low patronized times.

Posted on 29-11-2019 18:02 | By local yokel

Back in the late 50’s early 60’s the then bus company used to use full sized buses to take all the workers and school children to work or school during the busy morning or evening times but during the rest of the day they used to run a VW Transporter Mini Bus, or two, to take care of the rest of the people during the slow times of the day and during the weekends.It worked well then so why cant they do it again.

Instant expert

Posted on 29-11-2019 15:15 | By Old Bloke

Oh dear oh dear. Mr Tenby, Elected a few weeks ago and now an expert on Buses. Maybe get rid of the current experts doing the route planning and screwing it up. It only took milliseconds for the bus travelling public to know that the hubbing BS was not going to work. So lets keep know nothing politicians out of the loop. AND also journos stop being stupid and asking newly elected bods with NO experience for their opinion. Its worthless.

Smaller Buses

Posted on 29-11-2019 15:04 | By

All for the smaller buses. We don’t need these great big ones. It would go a way to helping toward less congestion too. Never seen a local full bus on our roads yet. Sort the routes out, lower the price to something affordable for all. The present route system is not user friendly. I know we’ll never please all but we can certainly make a bigger effort in that direction. But smaller buses - GREAT IDEA.

Smaller Buses

Posted on 29-11-2019 15:04 | By

All for the smaller buses. We don’t need these great big ones. It would go a way to helping toward less congestion too. Never seen a local full bus on our roads yet. Sort the routes out, lower the price to something affordable for all. The present route system is not user friendly. I know we’ll never please all but we can certainly make a bigger effort in that direction. But smaller buses - GREAT IDEA.

Giants

Posted on 29-11-2019 14:01 | By peecee09

At last we may see common sense prevail by the use of smaller busses instead of virtually empty giant busses costing a huge waste of fuel. The Regional Council has wasted millions of OUR dollars persisting with these monsters.

TCC Managed buses

Posted on 29-11-2019 12:21 | By tia

A word of caution Mr Mayor. Would you consider councils performance in other areas like - Durham St upgrade (late and over budget), Greerton Village enhancements, Phoenix car park debacle and the Welcome Bay cycle lane mess, gives you the confidence that TCC could manage the bus service and not be another TCC mess?

Taff

Posted on 29-11-2019 12:09 | By

No matter who controls the buses until they get the routes sorted that are passenger friendly and NOT the mish mash they are at present. Meay I suggest that all the planners catch the bus to and from work for a month before they have an input on routes and timetables.