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Published: 2010-09-06 00:00:00

Very high customer satisfaction levels and a huge surge in bus use in Hamilton were major features of a report presented to the last meeting, for the current triennium, of the multi-agency Regional Passenger Transport Committee today.

The report from Environment Waikato transport operations programme manager Bevan Dale said customer satisfaction with the regional passenger transport network had been at least 97 per cent for the past three years.

Bus patronage had grown by 68 per cent in Hamilton over the same period, with passenger trips leaping from just under 2.9 million annually to more than 4.8 million last year as new services progressively came on stream.

Operating hours on the west side of Hamilton had increased, the Orbiter and the CBD shuttle services had become a regular part of the bus network and a wide range of special events buses had been provided.

Another highlight was that a new marketing push had seen the Nightrider service improve patronage to more than 1,000 passengers a month.

Also, three new Direct services had started in Hamilton, a City Express service had been added, while Raglan and Taupo had new services.

A number of highly successful services had helped ease holiday time road congestion on the Coromandel.

Mr Dale also noted that a review of the regional bus network had been completed, taking into account the goal of maintaining existing services while looking for efficiencies. "This has enabled $300,000 in cost savings with no visible changes in service to the customer," Mr Dale’s report said.

He also told the committee that growth in Hamilton bus use was 5.2 per cent in July compared to the same month last year. Given no new services were operating in July, this increase marked "real" growth.

Group manager policy and transport Vaughan Payne said after the meeting that the achievements of the last three years were a very solid base on which to build a new Regional Passenger Transport Plan which is due for completion in 2012.

The committee approved the issuing of a discussion document on the new plan.

"There are a number of key issues we need to address going forward such as how to grow bus patronage even further, funding policies and the potential for expanding the role of passenger rail for the region," Mr Payne said.

"We will soon be issuing the discussion document looking at all these types of issues and seeking feedback from stakeholders before progressing things further."