A free regional bus service for tertiary students will be launched in 2020 across the Bay of Plenty Region.
The service is a joint venture between the University of Waikato, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, with each organisation contributing funds to make the service available, along with a grant from the New Zealand Transport Association (NZTA).
The service will mean students from around the Bay in Katikati, Rotorua and Whakatāne will be able to travel into Tauranga and back every weekday from 1 February 2020 to 20 December 2020.
The service is also available to the public (at a cost), and will be a one year trial initially, to be reviewed at the end of 2020.
Professor Alister Jones, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Waikato says, “We are pleased to be able to offer this service, in conjunction with the other partners, to students around the Bay of Plenty.”
“These new regional bus services will greatly improve access to tertiary education for the communities of the Bay of Plenty, especially for our current and future students who face the challenges and costs of transport to our campuses.”
“Our current bus services that extend across the Waikato region, which are also free of charge, have shown the benefits of providing services like this to students.”
Head of Student Support Services at Toi Ohomai, Dr Logan Bannister, says she’s confident the service will have a positive impact by removing barriers for student around transport accessibility and transport costs across the rohe.
“At Toi Ohomai, our goal is to ensure tertiary education is as accessible as possible, to as many people as possible, particularly in the regional areas. Many students face substantial financial pressures, and can find transportation problematic. This service means that students will be able to get to their classes, without the added stress of finding and paying for transport. It’s been an valuable collaborative effort, and I’m proud that together we are able to provide this service for our community.”
Regional Council has budgeted $354,000 in its Annual Plan 2019/20 for the trial.
Regional Transport Committee Chairman Lyall Thurston says it is nice to be able to provide a public transport service to students and commuters so they can get to their place of study or work at a time that suits their schedule.
“The proof of the trials worth will be in its use, so I thoroughly encourage people to use it,” Councillor Thurston says.
The exact routes and timetables for the bus service are currently being finalised, to ensure they are fit for purpose for all Bay of Plenty students. Students will simply need to show their student ID on board to access the service free of charge.