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Published: 2004-08-04 00:00:00

Bus patronage in Hamilton City has increased by 53 percent in the past four years, thanks to improvements in bus services.

This week’s Regional Passenger Transport Subcommittee meeting heard that there were significant benefits from increasing most bus services to half hourly, and even those buses where frequency hadn’t increased were gaining more passengers.

Environment Waikato Passenger Transport Co-ordinator Noel Burnie said the number of people using buses had risen 12 percent on the same time last year to 1.9 million trips. Since 2000 the use of bus services had increased 53 percent through increased frequency, improvements to the Passenger Transport Centre, increased Saturday buses, electronic ticketing and other improvements.

“Now it’s time to look at rural services and improve those. Large numbers of vehicles are coming into the city with just one person.”

He said the Council had surveyed at roundabouts coming into the city and found 700-800 vehicles an hour arrived in the city with one person in them.

Hamilton City Council representative Dave Macpherson said his Council supported improved rural services but would not want to see improvements in Hamilton reduce.

“We would like to see another 50 percent increase or more in the next four years, and I hope we can improve both.”

Mr Burnie said increases in both off peak and peak travel had meant a change with a 50/50 split to each time slot. During school holidays off peak travel increased to 53 percent.

Increasing frequency to 15 minutes was much more difficult as more buses were needed. An increase to half hourly frequency could be done with 38 buses but between 70 and 75 buses were needed to increase frequency even more.

Cr Paula Southgate asked how new gains could be made to commuter use of buses.

“There have been great gains but we now have to get the commuter to appreciate the services and we need to be more aggressive to make buses more useful for commuters, such as faster trips.”

Taupo’s bus service began last month and the Rainbow Point service in the south was more popular than the Nukuhau service. About 50 passengers a day were using the service and there had been positive feedback from users with suggestions about extensions and timing.
Progress was also being made on the Real Time passenger information system. Transfund had approved funding for the project. Tenders would be evaluated by the end of next month with installation in January next year.

Mr Burnie said there had been a recent huge increase in efficiency of the systems.