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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

Tauranga Bus Contract a disaster

A personal view from a sitting Regional Councillor.

An NZTA requirement of co-funding is that Bus Contract be for 9 years. In early December a new contract was let with the winning tender coming from Infratil's NZ Bus. NZ Bus has previously run the bus services for both Auckland and Wellington Councils.

What a disaster it is proving to be, with a shortage of bus drivers, and inadequate training, being only part of the problem. The Hopper Bus Service has been in trouble for at least 5 years. Patronage was growing at around 20% per annum from 2005 to 2010 (incidentally the time when I chaired our public Transport Committee at BOP Regional Council), and since 2013 it seems to have been consistently dropping.

Returning to BOPRC in November 2016, I warned staff and Councillors that the Bus Blueprint for change was flawed. The problem is that I got minimal support around the Council table, and staff never recognised my views.

The long and the short of it is that we have failed many (but not all) in our community, and we have to urgently address any shortfalls. NZ Bus also may have breached their contract (but that is for management - BOPRC staff, not Governance) and that could possibly give us leverage to alter the contract without penalty. Let's hope so.

Either way we need to revisit routes and timetables, as well as a total review of our reduced school bus services. We need to be customer centric. This has been a systemic failure, and is unlikely to be an easy fix. Our Tauranga BOPRC Councillors have taken ownership of the problem, and we have to get it right. Tauranga City is getting totally gridlocked, and it is worse during the school term. That tells me that the quickest fix is likely to be to focus closely on our school bus services. As I said - be customer focused...

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