New Sunday bus services in Hamilton are continuing to prove their popularity in the weeks following their launch on 28 September.
More than 4000 passengers were carried on their first day, when demand was artificially inflated by the fact that services were free. That compared to about 4500 on a normal Saturday when twice as many buses run.
In the following two Sundays, the number of paying customers has remained solid, with 1428 passengers on a wet Sunday 5 October and 1674 last Sunday 12 October.
Environment Waikato’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale said the performance of the last two paying Sundays was on track with expectations for the initial weeks of the new services.
"We are delighted with the result. The people of Hamilton told us they wanted a Sunday bus service, we’ve delivered, and now we are seeing solid use of the Sunday buses.
"Feedback from Hamilton residents has been that Sunday buses are life changing for those people not able to access other forms of transport on a Sunday. They can now become part of Sunday life and do the things that other people do on a Sunday," Mr Dale said.
"We will be continuing to monitor the growth in Sunday passenger numbers closely to ensure we’re providing the service that Hamilton residents want."
He reiterated that it is up to Hamiltonians to help ensure that these services remain viable by using the buses on offer.
The Sunday services are part of a package of new bus operations introduced by the regional council recently.
The others include new public holiday services, increases to Orbiter operating hours and having the Orbiter travel through the Hospital campus.
The Sunday and public holiday services run on 12 key routes and these include the Orbiter, Pukete, Silverdale, Dinsdale, Glenview, Nawton, Fairfield, University, Rototuna, Hamilton East Uni and Te Rapa services. The Sunday services operate on the Saturday timetable, which is hourly. These services are clearly identified by yellow "key route" flags on relevant timetables, on the Environment Waikato website and on all promotional material.
Under the changes, the Orbiter operates from 6.15am until 10pm on weekdays and 6.15am to 8pm on weekends.