Under pressure: Bay of Plenty bus caught speeding 132km/h as 271 incidents revealed

Buses in the Bay of Plenty have been caught speeding 271 times during the past three years, with at least one bus being caught doing 132km/h in a 100km/h zone.

The breaches of speed limits have resulted in $24,700 in fines.

And the local union representatives says he’s not surprised.

Data obtained by NZME reveals a breakdown of buses caught by police for speeding in the Western Bay, Rotorua, Taupō, and Eastern Bay of Plenty during 2018, 2019, and 2020.

In the Western Bay of Plenty alone, police caught 113 buses breaking the speed limit. Police also issued tickets to 20 buses in Rotorua, 47 in Taupō and 21 in the Eastern Bay.

Sixteen of the speeding buses were caught outside schools.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council manages the local bus network that covers Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatāne urban and rural areas, plus Tauranga’s urban school buses.

Public Transport Committee chairman Andrew von Dadelszen said the council changed contractors to NZ Bus in 2018 and as part of the transition the number of buses increased from 98 to 135.

“They employed a lot more drivers and, to be honest, a lot more drivers had driver training issues in the early stages but I haven’t heard any issues around that lately. I certainly did back in 2018/19 but in the last year, nothing’s been reported to me to show concern of speeding drivers.”

Von Dadelszen said it was important buses were on time but he did not condone speeding, which “puts people in danger”.

The highest speeds were 132km/h on State Highway 1 in Taupō, 120km/h on SH30 in Rotorua and 119km/h on SH2 in the Western Bay, all in 100km/h zones. Police offiers gave the three drivers tickets of $300, $120 and $120 respectively.

Another bus was caught via speed camera travelling at 123km/h in a 100km/h zone, on SH1 in Taupō prompting a $170 ticket.

Of the 50km/h limited urban roads, most speeding bus drivers were caught on Maunganui Rd in the Western Bay and Vaughan Rd in Rotorua. One was caught speeding four times in the same spot and fined $480.

A Tauranga cyclist, who would not be named, said he was clipped by a bus on Oceanbeach Rd a few weeks ago and was concerned about speeding buses.

“My concern is that the road is full of distractions for all users and if, due to one of those distractions, the driver of a bus does not see a cyclist and had to stop quickly to avoid hitting the rider, surely higher speeds would make that more difficult.

“Buses are very large vehicles and could inflict much damage.”

Regional council legal and commercial manager Jessica Easton said the organisation did not monitor and was not notified about bus speeding infringements.

This was the responsibility of the bus operators and was consistent with Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM)contracts across the country, she said.

“Speeding by a driver is an employment issue dealt with by the individual bus operators. We have contacted NZ Bus and they have told us they received four speeding infringements in the last financial year.”

First Union Bay of Plenty organiser Graham McKean said he was not surprised to hear of the speeding incidents.

“What I am surprised about is that we haven’t had more accidents in the bus fraternity simply because of the pressure and time constraints our drivers have.

“People are not happy. Drivers are stressed and it tends to express itself particularly in speeding.”

NZ Bus chief operating officer Jay Zmijewski said company policy included obeying the speed limit and its vehicles were fitted with telematics systems that automatically notified the company if a bus sped.

Zmijewski confirmed drivers had been removed from their duties because of speeding in buses but said because of privacy concerns he would not elaborate further.

“Suffice to say this is not a regular occurrence as the telematics system continuously monitors the driver’s speed.”

Speeding tickets were paid by the bus driver, who was also subject to further training, counselling, disciplinary action and potential dismissal, he said.

“NZ Bus encourages the community to report speeding buses. We take speeding very seriously as it is a safety issue.”

National Road Policing Centre director Superintendent Steve Greally said three camera-issued speeding fines were waived during the past three years, all in 2020.

“Two related to an administrative error at the police infringement bureau and one involved a transfer of liability from the registered owner of a vehicle to the driver.”

Police were unable to say how many offences resulted in a warning rather than a fine becausevehicle data was not “in a retrievable form” from within the police system. To do so would require manually scrutinising each written traffic warning, which would take too much time and resource to carry out, Greally said.

The number of fines that remained unpaid and any revenue made from the tickets was also unknown because this money was paid to the Crown.

Western Bay of Plenty’s top five speeding bus incidents
Maunganui Rd* – 75km/h in a 50km/h zone
Maunganui Rd, in the vicinity of Mount Maunganui College – 72km/h in a 50km/h zone
SH2* – 121km/h in a 100km/h
Marine Parade, between Tay St and Tweed St – 71km/h in a 50km/h zone
SH2, between Mangatawa Lane and Welcome Bay Rd – 121km/h in a 100km/h zone

Other high speeds included:
Taupo, SH1* – 132km/h in a 100km/h zone
Taupo, SH1 between Rotongaio Rd and Earthquake Gully Rd – 123km/h in a 100km/h zone

* in officer-issued tickets, the exact location has not been specified

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