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Tauranga South to trial Baybus OnDemand public transport for 18 months

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Bay of Plenty Regional Council public transport committee chairman, Andrew von Dadelszen, left, and the council’s director public transport, Mike Seabourne with the Baybus OnDemand vehicles. Photo / BOPRC

A new “corner-to-corner” on-demand ridesharing bus service will be trialled in Tauranga South by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The council said in a statement it would launch its Baybus OnDemand public transport service trial on March 25 and it will run for up to 18 months.

It comes as the fast-growing city grapples with congestion, which one survey rated the worst of eight New Zealand cities, while public transport use was scored comparatively poorly by Tauranga respondents.

The long-planned trial regional council ridesharing service would include a fleet of four eight-seater electric minivans and one five-seater equipped with ramps and a wheelchair hoist, which passengers could book with a set fee per trip.

The statement said they will operate within Gate Pā, Greerton, Parkvale, Pyes Pā, Tauriko and the Lakes daily from 6am to 7pm, excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Passengers can choose their pick-up and drop-off points, which the Baybus website said would usually be available “within 150m of your location”.

The council statement said the buses would provide on-demand “flexible connections between local destinations and link passengers to the wider Baybus network”.

Council public transport director, Mike Seabourne, said the OnDemand vans would not follow set routes.

“Instead, they take the most efficient path to your destination, considering the needs of all passengers onboard. This approach ensures less waiting time and a more direct journey, enhancing the overall passenger experience.”

He said the service would be ideal for seniors and families, for hassle-free trips to essential services such as Grace Hospital or places of worship.

“Families will appreciate the ease of errands to Tauranga Crossing, shopping in Fraser Cove or getting to after-school activities. OnDemand is about freedom and convenience – taking you where you need to go, when you need to be there,” Seabourne said.

“This service represents a new era of public transport – adaptable, efficient, and eco-friendly.”

As the Baybus OnDemand is introduced, the Route 51 bus service from Pyes Pā to Tauranga Crossing would be removed from Tauranga’s urban Baybus network.

“We plan to monitor use closely, but at this stage, we are not proposing to make changes to other urban routes or school bus services. Our goal is to complement fixed public transport routes, aiming to increase overall patronage and efficiency,” the council’s statement said.

The trial was sponsored by Mercury, which provided electric chargers for the fleet, and also had funding from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi.

Service details

  • Operating within Tauranga South including Gate Pā, Greerton, Parkvale, Pyes Pā, Tauriko and the Lakes.
  • Available daily from 6am to 7pm (excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day).
  • Book via dedicated app, Baybus OnDemand, calling 0800 4 BAYBUS (0800 4 229 287) or in person at a participating Book on Behalf organisation or business.
  • Standard fare is $3.40 per trip, reduced to $2.72 with a Bee Card (adhering to current Baybus fare structure), Baybus concessions and transfers are available.
  • Payment via app with credit/debit card or your Bee Card (no cash).

How it works

1. Let Baybus know where you want to go and when.

Baybus OnDemand has no fixed route or timetable. Instead, it has flexible pick-up and drop-off points, usually within 150m of your location.

2. Book your ride.

You can book your travel as soon as possible or up to seven days in advance.

3. Get to your pick-up location.

To ensure an easy journey for everyone, you must be at your pick-up point before your ride arrives.

4. Pay with the app or with your Bee Card.

Tag on and tag off with your Bee Card on the reader in the vehicle at the start and end of your trip. Payment with the app will be applied automatically.

Source: Bay of Plenty Regional Council

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