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Published: 2004-03-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has put its support behind Hamilton City’s late night bus and concessions for elderly passengers –on a trial basis.

The Council has received a request from Hamilton City Council to implement a concession for passengers over 60 during off-peak hours and a late night service for inner city revellers. This week’s Corporate Service Committee supported the trials, as long as the city paid actual costs and the plan received Transfund and bus operator approval.

The over sixties account for about 13 percent of bus passengers, and about 186,000 trips costing about 65 cents in lost fares for each trip, amounting to $121,030 a year. if a concession fare was only offered in off-peak periods the cost would be about half.

The cost of producing a photo identification card would be about $14,500, and with Transfund assistance the concession would cost about $51,000 a year to introduce.

Cr Paula Southgate said introducing the concession fare should not jeopardise other planned services, such as park-and-ride and commuter services. It was just one part of the mix, she said.

She had some concerns about security and what could go wrong with what had become known as “the booze bus”. There was also room for commercial interests such as bars and clubs who were beneficiaries of people being in the city late at night, and who could fund the bus long-term.

Cr Laurie Burdett said the late night bus should not be free as if people could afford to “drink up large” they should be able to afford bus fare. The current service from Hillcrest into town should be taking people home, rather than into the city.

Cr David Peart said that the city was starting to recognise the relationship between its parking account and passenger transport services. He had concerns about the late night bus, but since it was being introduced under the city’s Safer Communities programme, “that’s where the buck stops if this doesn’t work”. He said potential issues with the late night bus service had been raised with the city.

The Committee recommended approving the two services, subject to Transfund and operator approvals.

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