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Published: 2009-03-02 00:00:00

Off peak bus use is continuing to surge in Hamilton as people take advantage of new services provided in the last year by Environment Waikato.

Figures for January also show peak hour use growing strongly.

EW’s data shows bus trips in Hamilton grew by nearly 47 per cent in January compared to the same month a year ago. The year to date total was 26 per cent better at 2.3 million.

Off peak patronage was 58 per cent stronger in January compared to the same month last year, while peak service patronage was 24 per cent better.

Two stand out services for growth in January over the same month last year were the CBD Shuttle (+ 62 per cent) and the Orbiter (+ 52 per cent).

"These figures show our new and expanded off peak services are meeting a clear demand, and that all of our services are proving to be increasingly popular," said EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale.

Mr Dale said the use of buses in Hamilton was climbing towards levels seen in other major centres, a development that indicated the "bus culture" was becoming more solidly embedded in the city.

Figures indicated Hamilton had 30.4 bus trips per person annually, compared to 38 in Auckland, 42 in Christchurch and 73 in Wellington.

"Besides being quick and convenient, buses provide a range of social benefits as they’re a cheaper transport alternative and help unclog our roads. So it’s great to see they are increasingly used in Hamilton," said Mr Dale.