New technology providing real time travel information and improved bus services on Hamilton routes are officially launched this weekend.
The launch has involved close co-operation between councils via the Hamilton public transport committee. Chair Russ Rimmington from Waikato Regional Council (right in front of bus) and deputy chair Dave Macpherson of Hamilton City Council were on hand to inspect the new gear and buses.
Cr Rimmington said the new technology and re-designed bus routes are aimed at making bus travel easier for passengers by providing real-time travel information and streamlining routes and services.
“The planned technology improvements include a mobile app that allows people to track their bus in real-time and trialling of new real time information street displays at select locations.”
The mobile realtime app, Transit, is free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. In just two weeks it has been downloaded onto 1360 devices and been used more than 20,500 times.
Cr Macpherson said there will also be new and re-furbished buses. “They’ll have on board CCTV cameras and free wifi for passengers, phased in between September and January 2018. It’s all about making bus travel more attractive for potential users.”
Cr Rimmington noted CCTV would add to safety, that new buses were state of the art and built in New Zealand, and all vehicles can kneel to the kerb providing step-free access for all passengers including wheelchair users.
A new ticketing system is also being developed, allowing online top ups of bus cards along with other features that will make bus travel easier. The new ticketing system is due in 2018.
Also, a range of route changes are coming into effect this weekend, with a second round of improvements due to be in place by the end of January 2018.
Some bus routes will be merged, with resources allocated to higher-demand areas, and routes simplified by making them more direct. The number 15 Ruakura bus will be withdrawn as part of these changes to reduce duplication of services and in response to relatively low utilisation.
The city’s busiest bus route, the Orbiter, will increase service frequency to every 15 minutes between 6am and 6pm and approximately every 25 minutes between 6pm and 9pm Monday-Friday. There will also be greater seating capacity available on the Orbiter service at peak times.
The Orbiter route is being simplified and will now go via Ruakura, Knighton and Clyde streets. It will no longer travel along Old Farm or Cameron roads. This is to improve journey times and provide coverage to Ruakura Road stops following the removal of the 15 Ruakura service. As part of the changes, new bus stops will be installed outside and opposite the Innovation Park. Previous Orbiter stops on Old Farm Road and Cameron Road will now be served by the 13 University services. For some of those stops it will be just a short walk to the Knighton Road or Clyde Street Orbiter stops.
These changes also mean the Orbiter will no longer travel along Peachgrove Rd between Ruakura Rd and Clyde St. However, Orbiter school assist buses will still go along that section of Peachgrove Rd at school times.
Meanwhile, three additional bus services – being the Te Rapa, Pukete and Nawton routes – will be extended to The Base, enabling better access to a major activity centre. The bus hub at The Base will also become a more convenient inter-change location for people transferring between services.
The changes will have implications for some existing users so it’s important people understand how the changes might affect them. Full details are at www.busit.co.nz