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Bus driver shortages tackled head on

October 2022

Bay of Plenty bus drivers are now amongst the highest paid in New Zealand after Bay of Plenty Regional Council recently agreed to sweeping wage rises, to $28 an hour.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Public Transport Director Greg Campbell said the approval to significantly raise the hourly wage was an emphatic step addressing the critical national shortage of bus drivers head on. 

“This wage rise will attract new drivers to the role,” Mr Campbell said.

“Across New Zealand, public transport operators are experiencing bus driver shortages and we see this as being a critical step in the right direction towards addressing that.

“We recognise the benefit a reliable, efficient public transport network can make to a town, city and region. By making sure we’re keeping up with what is expected and attractive to drivers in pay rates, we are confident that we will be able to lift our current recruitment situation, and in turn the contribution our networks make to growing and supporting the Bay of Plenty.”

Head of Kinetic NZ Calum Haslop said NZ Bus, which operates the Tauranga city bus services, had been working with its council partners for some time to improve wages for our drivers and they were delighted with this outcome.

“We required council’s support as the way our contracts adjust for cost increases over time has made it difficult to keep pace with wage increases across other sectors. NZ Bus is committed to making bus driving an attractive opportunity for a broad range of people by maintaining competitive wages, being a well-regarded and trusted employer, and looking after our people.” 

“NZ Bus is working hard to address the current shortage of drivers and a return to providing full timetables across our services in Tauranga.”

Louisa Jones, FIRST Union Assistant General Secretary said the pay increase recognises the importance bus drivers have to our communities and the uniquely challenging work environment that Bay of Plenty drivers have dealt with over the last few years.

“It’s crucial across Aotearoa that we recruit new bus drivers while recognising skills and long service, and with Bay of Plenty drivers now earning an average of around $28 per hour, the job is more attractive than ever in almost all of our major centres,” Ms Jones said.

“We’re calling on other outlier councils who have not yet done to do so to meet this new market rate to match these pay rises rather than fall behind the pack unnecessarily before Fair Pay Agreements are implemented nationally.”

The Bay of Plenty’s bus networks have been working on reduced timetables since the pandemic began and in some areas it is estimated that bus driver numbers are almost 30% less than the optimum number required to provide a full and reliable service.


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