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Published: 2004-02-03 00:00:00

Hamilton bus users are keen to use new technology to ride the city’s buses.

Environment Waikato has already issued more than 14,300 electronic Busit cards when it expected to issue about 6000. Another 500 are going out this week.

This week’s Regional Passenger Transport Subcommittee meeting heard that the electronic swipe card, which stores value and reduces trip costs, had proved much more popular than expected with bus users.

With the introduction of half hourly services on most routes, patronage had risen 4.5 percent for the first half of the financial year, with 38,512 more passengers carried than for the same period in 2002. There had been a major shift in patronage patterns with more people using off peak buses services.

Previously 63 percent were using peak services and 37 percent off-peak. Since July, 52 percent use peak services and 42 percent off-peak. More people than usual also used the buses in December.

Environment Waikato Policy Group Manager Jeanette Black said changes were visible following the increase in the frequency of bus services.

“The increase in the number of people using the service is great and we need to continue to promote this as a good choice of transport, but there would need to be a partnership approach to getting “new bodies” on buses.”

A joint marketing plan would be put together with the bus operators, Hamilton City Council and Environment Waikato to promote the service.

Contracts for a number of city routes expire in the next 18 months. Environment Waikato is considering any new contracts being for eight years, instead of the current five years and contracts will be grouped by area so the route and schedule can be tailored to passenger requirements.

Tenders have just completed for the Raglan and Leamington routes. Changes will be made to the Hamilton departure times for Raglan so that passengers from Intercity services can transfer to the Raglan bus. The Leamington service will include an air conditioned bus and electronic ticketing will be installed so the Busit card can be used on this service.