09 April 2018

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is pleased to announce that it has awarded the new western Bay of Plenty bus contracts to NZ Bus.

NZ Bus will operate the new and improved network once the current contracts held by Go Bus, Reesby Rotorua Ltd, Bethlehem Coachlines and Uzabus expire in December this year.

The new Bayhopper network will feature redesigned routes, new interchanges, extended operating hours and more frequent services with a fleet of low-emission vehicles including five state of the art electric buses.  All buses will have bike racks and customers will have access to real time journey information and bus tracking.

The winning price for the improved service is $14.8 million per annum, compared to the current cost of the existing contracts at about $12.8 million.  

Regional Council Public Transport Committee Chairman Lyall Thurston says the tender process was highly competitive for the nine-year contract that will enhance public transport in Tauranga by building on the great work undertaken by Go Bus and other contractors.

“Firstly it’s important we acknowledge the previous nine years of dedicated service undertaken by Go Bus.  Their management and staff should be proud of the contribution they have made to our growing region and we will be sad to see that relationship end.  All of the proposals were strong and Council acknowledges the time and effort put into them.  Ultimately NZ Bus presented the best combination of price and quality for Tauranga ratepayers.  The procurement team were particularly taken with the increased driver pay offered by NZ Bus,” says Mr Thurston.

NZ Bus come to the Bay of Plenty with a wealth of knowledge and experience in large scale public transport operations and currently hold contracts with Auckland Transport and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

NZ Bus Chief Executive Zane Fulljames said they were delighted to be selected to operate the Tauranga bus services.

“We’re looking forward to a productive partnership with the Council and to provide a quality service to customers and the exciting changes being implemented by the Council will transform the experience for the public, and we are excited to be a part of that."

The tender process was delayed after a fantastic level of public engagement and feedback on the proposed network during the public engagement period in 2017.  As a result staff took considerable time to further understand and incorporate all the valuable input and make some adjustments to the proposed routes including spending time working with schools to develop school-led transport solutions.  

Mr Thurston says that although the announcement of the tender process represents a culmination of a lot of work it’s really only the beginning when it comes to improved public transport in Tauranga.

“The enhanced bus network launching in December represents a landmark date in the Tauranga transport space but we won’t be complacent and it’s important we continue to work with staff and our partners at Tauranga City Council, Western Bay District Council and New Zealand Transport Agency to seek further improvements including bus priority measures and adapting to any advancements in technology,” says Mr Thurston. 

“We are also aware that one in five people in Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty identify with a disability that impacts on their daily life. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council maintains its ongoing commitment to the disability sector hence all buses will be fully accessible.”

The public transport contract is funded from fares from passengers using the service, by the NZ Transport Agency through the National Land Transport Fund, and from council through rates.

Details of the new network including specific routes and timetable information will be released later in the year and schools will receive information relating to school bus routes near the end of term two.


Key facts with this new contract are:

  • New contract hourly rate for bus drivers is living wage
  • The bus network has been redesigned to provide more direct routes and stronger connections between areas outside of the Tauranga CBD
  • There will be 50% more buses running on most services and express services to growth areas
  • There will be more capacity, with 50% more seats on most buses
  • The entire fleet will be wheelchair accessible
  • We will be transitioning to a low carbon fleet of vehicles, starting with five electric vehicles in December 2018
  • New features include bike racks on buses and real-time bus journey technology
  • Weekend services in Tauranga will run every 30 minutes, instead of every hour, providing users with more choice, convenience and reliability daily, ensuring that public transport is an option for recreational and social trips
  • City Loop - connecting Mount Maunganu, Bayfair, CBD and Tauranga Hospital every 15 minutes – extending to Greerton in 2020
  • Services to Ōmokoroa and Katikati doubled
  • Te Puke will have hourly return services between 7am and 6pm
  • Pāpāmoa Express – travel time comparable to cars during peaks
  • Goldline – providing off-peak services to retirement homes, cruise ship terminal and Mount Hot Pools
  • Crosstown Connector – Linking Bayfair, Welcome Bay, Toi Ohomai Windermere campus
  • Shorter trips including new Matua and Otumoetai routes
  • More connectivity with Brookfield, Greerton, Arataki and Hairini as hubs/interchanges
  • More frequent buses and extended coverage in areas like Welcome Bay
  • Significant enhancement of The Lakes to CBD express service
  • As demand increases hours are extended to 9pm on core services and as late as 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Saturday services added for Katikati, Ōmokoroa and Te Puke

NZ Bus Background

NZ Bus is New Zealand’s largest urban public transport business and operator of metropolitan bus services, built on a 25-year track record as a successful bus operator. From 2019, NZ Bus will own and operate a fleet of over 700 buses from 12 depots and employ approximately 1,400 people. The business is underpinned by long term contracts averaging 8 years in Auckland, 11 years in Wellington and 9 years in Tauranga.

NZ Bus’ primary business is providing urban bus route services through long term contracts with Auckland Council-owned Auckland Transport (AT), the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

NZ Bus is an industry leader in its operations with a highly experienced management team, long term contracts with sustainable operating margins, best-in-class IT systems and innovative cost management solutions. Together, this makes NZ Bus one of the most successful bus operators in New Zealand with punctuality and reliability performance exceeding benchmarks.