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Published: 2003-04-14 00:00:00

Environment Waikato wants to know what Hamilton residents think about expanding the city’s bus services.

The Council is delivering a brochure to households this week outlining a range of proposed new and extended bus services in the city and asking for public feedback.

Hamilton city residents currently pay a Special Passenger Transport rate, amounting to about $21 per $100,000 of a property’s capital value. Environment Waikato’s Draft Annual Plan includes plans to encourage more people onto public transport with more frequent services and real time electronic information.

Maintaining existing services, plus increasing service frequency throughout the city and adding real time bus information would cost an extra $12, bringing the total to $33 per $100,000 of capital value.

Other improvements are also possible, if ratepayers say they want to fund them. These include increasing late night services on weeknights, a new service to the western suburbs, extending the university route, Sunday services and adding a city Orbiter service. These would add another $7 per $100,000 of property value, making a total of $40.

Residents can have their say on the plans by returning their questionnaire or making a formal submission through the Annual Plan process. They can also make a submission through a survey in the Council’s magazine EnviroCare, which will be delivered to all households later this month.

Regional Land Transport Committee Chairman David Peart said the Council had reviewed its Passenger Transport Plan and looked at all services, discussing with passengers about what they wanted. The survey showed 99 percent of respondents wanted a community funded bus system and that there was a strong desire to maintain and improve services.

“From this we’ve developed a list of projects which will improve the frequency and efficiency of the city’s bus service. Frequency is the key to getting people onto buses, so we’re proposing increasing services in the city to half hourly to make the service more convenient. We’re also discussing this fully with Hamilton City Council.

“Extensions are proposed for the Northerner route, because that is the direction in which the city is expanding. New technology also gives us an opportunity to provide real time information at hub points about when the next bus will arrive. Patronage has increased greatly in other cities where this is used.”

Hamilton’s bus service carried 1.6 million people last year and bus use is increasing as services improve. A major improvement last year was electronic ticketing, where passengers use a card to pay for bus trips, increasing the efficiency of the service.