Rotorua bus changes: Eleven routes down to five

A Rotorua bus. Photo / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post.

A proposal that would see Rotorua’s 11 bus routes consolidated into five will soon be considered for adoption.

A Bay of Plenty Regional Council Public Transport Committee meeting this week will consider feedback from public consultation on the proposal, which ran from April 26 to May 24.

A report for the meeting, written by council service planning and project delivery team leader Oliver Haycock, says the Rotorua bus network “refresh” will improve access to Central Mall and other inner city locations, and will “broadly” provide the same network coverage.

The report will be presented to elected members to provide them with the initial findings of public consultation, following a “comprehensive campaign” for public feedback, which attracted at least 196 responses.

The council expects the number will be higher once all are processed.

The network has not been changed since 2016 and is under review due to concerns about a long-term decline in bus use, Haycock’s report says.

Proposed inner city bus loop and bus stops. Photo / Supplied / Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

It will change the names of bus routes in the city from numerical to colour-coded alphabetical names.

Haycock’s report says the service changes are not expected to require additional revenue, but capital funding will be needed for five new bus stops.

“Identification of this funding will require joint working with Rotorua Lakes Council (who have some funding in the Long-term Plan) and Waka Kotahi.”

Summarising the feedback, his report says there is support for Route A – which will replace most of the current Route 10.

Respondents were asked to provide their preference between a route that went directly to and from the airport and city via Te Ngae Road, or one that included Vaughan Rd. Respondents preferred option 2, which included Vaughan Road.

The current Rotorua bus network. Photo / Supplied / Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The council has also floated aligning bus times with airport arrivals and departures but some respondents are concerned this would be “confusing”, an attached briefing by Haycock states.

He says there is “mixed feedback” for Routes B and D.

Route B – Ngongotahā to Tihi-o-Tonga via the city - replaces current routes 1, 11 and 12.

Forty-four per cent of the 39 respondents say they will be very likely or likely to use Route B, but 41 per cent say they will not.

Almost half of the “negative” responses were from people who did not currently use the bus, the briefing says.

Some respondents want the council to retain Western Road and Frances and Hood streets on the route, it says.

Their removal from the route is proposed to “improve journey times” and has experienced low-demand, but the council proposes to revisit routing in the area in light of the feedback.

Route D - Kawaha Point and Selwyn Heights into the CBD and then on to Sunnybrook and Westbrook – will replace routes 4 and 6 and parts of route 5 and 8.

Forty-six per cent of the 24 respondents say they will be very likely or likely to use the proposed route, while 42 per cent say they will not. Some suggest the route incorporate the hospital, Haycock’s report says.

There is also support, according to Haycock’s report, for Route C – Mitchell Downs to Springfield via the city – and Route E – Holdens Bay to the city via Lynmore.

Route C will replace routes 7 and 9 and parts of routes 5 and 8, while Route E replaced route 3 and extended to serve Holdens Bay.

The proposal also includes five new central-city bus stops, and the removal of two on either side of the Amohia Street extension into the Central Mall carpark.

Two of the new bus stops will be placed outside the front of the mall on each side of Amohau Street.

The other three were proposed for the north side of Arawa Street, the east of Fenton Street between Eruera and Hinemoa streets, and the west side of Amohia Streets between Pukuatua and Haupapa streets.

Haycock’s briefing to elected members says there is “some pushback” from businesses on the northbound sides of Amohia and Arawa streets.

Haycock’s briefing says the council will now finish analysing the responses and consider changes to proposed routing and stop locations.

It is expected council officers will bring the finalised proposal back to elected members for approval in September.

Once that decision is made, it is expected new timetables will be released late this year, with changes to begin in summer 2022 – 2023.

*The Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee meeting will be held on Thursday June 23 at 9.30am at the regional council buildings at 1 Elizabeth St, Tauranga. The meeting is open to the public and can also be viewed via the regional council’s Youtube channel.

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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