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Published: 2007-11-27 00:00:00

Solid growth in use of Hamilton’s expanded bus services is being sustained, new figures for October show.

Passenger trips for the month jumped nearly 26 per cent to more than 290,000, bringing the financial year to date total to 1.17 million, up 34 per cent.

“The buses are continuing to buzz,” said Environment Waikato’s land transport operations manager Russell Turnbull.

“Underpinning Hamilton’s growth is the increase in passengers using the Orbiter and CBD Shuttle services to get around the city.

“It is also especially pleasing to see significant off-peak growth as it shows people are using the network more for everyday transport, not just commuting to and from work.

“At a time when fuel prices are high, buses are offering a really practical and cost-effective alternative.”

The biggest growth was a 51 per cent increase in use of the Northerner service. This will in part be the result of housing growth in the north-east. Meanwhile, the Fitzroy service – which saw midday services improved earlier this year - recorded a 35 per cent gain.

However, Mr Turnbull noted small decreases in passenger numbers on University and Flagstaff routes as people swapped to the new Rototuna service.

And, in the lead up to Christmas and New Year, Mr Turnbull said Environment Waikato would increase awareness of the availability of late night buses in the city to assist bar patrons and late night shoppers home.

“Our night services are an attractive option for those in the city who are out late, as they provide a particularly good alternative to car use in summer when the weather is warmer and when people may be out socialising more.”

Elsewhere in the region, Taupo services recorded a 96 per cent increase in passenger trips after a rebranding and timetable change, while Paeroa services recorded a 31 per cent gain.