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Schoolhopper ready for launch

Friday, 23 January 2015 10:00 a.m.

Getting ready for the first day of school is not just limited to hundreds of Tauranga students this year – Bay of Plenty Regional Council is also getting ready for their first day as they prepare to launch the Schoolhopper bus network.

The Schoolhopper network is a new service for the city, replacing many of the Ministry of Education’s urban school buses in Tauranga, after their withdrawal of some routes last year.

The regional council currently manages the Bayhopper bus network in the region, and Lyall Thurston, Chair of the Passenger Transport Subcommittee and Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor said it’s nice to grow the service currently being offered to the city’s residents.

“While on the whole, the students using the buses won’t see much difference to what they may have experienced last year – they’ll see the same buses and many routes will have the same drivers on them – for us it’s been an incredible opportunity to extend the service that we offer the city’s residents,” Mr Thurston said.

The Schoolhopper network is a dedicated school bus network so is only available to school students, and will only operate during term time.

It launches from Wednesday 28 January for students attending Aquinas and Mount Maunganui Colleges, with all other routes starting the following week. Students attending Mount Maunganui College in particular are being asked to recheck their route timetables before school starts, as some minor stop changes may be made to what was previously listed on the Baybus website at www.baybus.co.nz/schoolhopper

“As we’ve been doing our planning we’ve made a few minor changes to some routes and timings, but they’re largely the same. The first few weeks for us are now crucial to make sure we carry out the usual adjustments.”

A major change to the service will be the introduction of a fare from Term 2. Travel on the Schoolhopper buses in Term 1 will be free.

“We realise this is probably the biggest change for families,” Mr Thurston said. “Obviously we appreciate that for some it will be an added expense to their weekly budget, but we’ve tried to keep this as low as possible for Term 2.”

Student fares will continue to be payable from the start of term 1 on the normal urban Bayhopper buses, but the fare has been reduced to $1.15 for students using a Smartride Card and $1.60 for those paying by cash.  From Term 2 these fares will also apply to Schoolhopper buses, Monday to Friday during term time. 

“We recognise that introducing the service means a fare needs to be charged to help us cover the costs of running it, but we hope that by offering the service free for Term 1 this alleviates some of the financial pressure.”

The Schoolhopper network is funded through a mix of user pays (fares), Regional Council rates and NZ Transport Agency funding.

Schoolhopper services will be provided to urban Tauranga. Ministry of Education services will continue to be provided to our rural regions. Full details of Ministry funded school transport services can be found at www.schooltransport.org.nz, on individual school websites or by contacting the Ministry at school.transport@minedu.govt.co.nz.

 

Key points about using the Schoolhopper buses

  • The service is a dedicated school bus service – it’s only available to school students
  • It’s free for Term 1 but a fare will be changed from Term 2 ($1.15 for students using a Smartride Card and $1.60 for those paying by cash)
  • Most routes are the same as those provided by the Ministry of Education last year, but there are a few minor changes so people are asked to check out the website www.baybus.co.nz/schoolhopper before school starts for the latest information
  • School students who use the Bayhopper buses to get to and from school can benefit from the Schoolhopper fare from Monday 2 February – which is cheaper than the regular student fare. The Schoolhopper fare is applicable Monday to Friday during term time.
  • If you’re waiting for a bus and it’s full, stay at your stop – the driver will arrange for another bus to come by and get you.
  • If adjustments need to be made to a route early in the term we will make sure we let the schools and students know before any changes are made.
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