In 2019 the BOP Regional Council decided to spend ratepayer money on providing free buses 24/7 to school-age children. It was a stupid idea economically and it seems an even worse idea socially.
The Herald reports:
Free student bus fares have been cut back in a bid to tackle escalating violence and anti-social behaviour on Tauranga bus routes – but installing cages for drivers was rejected.
A bus company boss told a summit today that abuse of drivers in Tauranga is the worst he has seen and a top cop said parents were too disengaged or busy working to supervise young troublemakers. …
Bus drivers have reported being racially abused and threatened – prompting a partial boycott of three stops – alongside recent reports of street brawls, vandalism, public underage drinking and assaults on passerbys.
Youths have arrested for allegedly carrying weapons at the Willow St interchange. Another has been charged with wounding with intent to cause grevious bodily harm after allegedly attacking a worker near a major Farm St stop, seriously injuring his eye.
The regional council added extra security to the city’s bus stops on Monday, adding $200,000 to the annual cost of $660,000. Waka Kotahi contributes 51 per cent.
So both taxpayers and ratepayers have been funding this unfortunate experiment.
Tauranga’s fare-free buses were part of the problem. Groups of youths used the library computers to organise fights at other stops then rode the bus there, she said.
“The free fares have been good for other young ones going home but there are more making bad use of those free fares than those taking good advantage of them.”
So we’re funding fight clubs for students!
NZ Bus chief operating officer Jay Zmijewski told the council that in his 22 years of driving and working in the bus industry in New Zealand and Australia, he had not seen such regular levels of abuse and violence directed at drivers and buses.
Zmijewski said bus routes had often had to be cancelled because the driver was still traumatised from an incident days before. There was a risk some would quit.
“I still recall the effects of anti-social behaviour when I was a bus driver. It makes you sick to the stomach.”
Vandalism was happening daily with seats being cut and burned, window laminates melted and graffiti “inside and out”.
A sad unforeseen consequence of generosity with other people’s money