Local Focus: Bee ready for new Bay of Plenty travel card rollout

From next week a trip on a Bay of Plenty bus can be paid for with a new prepay travel smartcard called a Bee card.

“All around the world these cards are used,” Bay of Plenty regional councillor Andrew von Dadelszen said.

“The reason we’re getting them is, one it’s good for the patron, the bus passenger. It’s also good for the operational staff to understand where people get on and where they get off the bus so we can cater for better timetabling and better route decision making.”

Services in the Eastern Bay, Omokoroa, Katikati and Rotorua will adopt the new Bee Card system from Monday, while Tauranga bus users have to wait until the following week.

“Every bus has a machine in there now that can read the card. There’s a card reader at the front of the bus and another one at the back for people exiting the bus and there’s the software and technology that goes with it. It is a big expense shift but it will make a huge difference and it will help passengers,” von Dadelszen said.

If you’re currently using another regional travel card you can visit your nearest council office and transfer the balance to a new Bee card.

“In Rotorua you can go into the office with your current Citywide card and they can transfer that balance for you. In Tauranga and surrounding regional services you can either go into a regional council office or you can phone 0800 4 Baybus and we can do that transfer for you over the phone,” transport operations team leader Jen Proctor said.

Topping up is easy and can be done online, at your local council building, at nominated retailers and in some regions on the bus.

If you’re travelling with children, don’t fret – not everyone needs their own Bee card.

Proctor says you can use the stored value that’s on the card to purchase ticket fares.

“You have to discuss it with the driver and the driver will apply the appropriate fare and that will come off the value on your card.”

The Bee card is free until the end of October and can be ordered online or picked up from council and bus drivers.

From November 1 there will be a $5 charge and you will need to register your card to be entitled to any concessions.

“The Super Gold users in the Bay of Plenty region can get free from 9am onwards, Monday to Friday, and all day during the weekends and public holidays,” Proctor said.

“Students in Tauranga, they’re eligible for the fare free travel and they do need a Bee card in order to get that free travel. For the rest of the region they have a discounted concession fare. Tertiary institutes must be accredited so NZQA accredited.”

The card comes with a $4.50 overdraft, so if you’re caught short, you can still make your journey.

And for those more resistant to change, you can always keep it old school.

“People can still pay with cash, that’s no problem whatsoever,” Proctor said.

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