Bay of Plenty Regional Council is reviewing its SuperGold Card bus operating hours following requests from the community to extend them.

The nationwide scheme allows eligible card holders (aged 65 and over) free bus travel between the hours of 9am and 3pm and after 6:30pm on weekdays, and all day on weekends.

At the recent Public Transport Committee meeting staff explained recent changes to the SuperGold Card travel scheme now mean that councils are bulk funded as opposed to being reimbursed on a per trip basis as they had been previously and they believed the opportunity was there to make changes to how the scheme ran in the Bay of Plenty.

Public Transport Committee chairman Lyall Thurston says Auckland seniors have access to the travel concession from 9am onwards and the rationale behind limiting the hours everywhere except Auckland, was that there was limited capacity on buses outside of 9am and 3pm.

“The current restrictions on travel times for SuperGold Card holders are limiting their ability to travel freely and the current justification for restricting travel hours does not necessarily hold true in the Bay of Plenty,” Cr Thurston says.

“There are very few areas of the public bus network that are at full capacity between 3pm and 6:30pm and there is likely to be little or no impact on bus users.”

Staff will report their findings back to the next PT Committee meeting in May.

The Committee also approved an internal review of the wider Tauranga bus network which will be delivered from July 2019 onwards with community engagement playing an important part.

The community is also being consulted on Regional Council’s 2019/20 annual plan, which will help inform future decisions around public transport.

The public is being specifically asked for feedback about some potential trials of commuter services between Rotorua, Katikati and Whakatāne to Tauranga, and fare-free travel for Tauranga school students.

Both of these trials are aimed at reducing peak-time congestion on the roads.

Those who want to have their say on the wider proposals as part of the Annual Plan process can do so until May 6 at www.boprc.govt.nz/annualplan