Hamilton’s bus services are getting significant improvements starting from the end of this month through the introduction of new technology and re-designed routes.
“The changes are aimed at making bus travel easier for passengers by providing real-time travel information and streamlining routes and services,” said Waikato Regional Council’s public transport manager Andrew Wilson.
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. There will also be new and re-furbished buses with on board CCTV cameras and free wifi for passengers, phased in between September and January 2018.
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.
“We’ll be implementing these improvements, over the next year. It’s all about making bus travel easier for our passengers,” said Mr Wilson.
Meanwhile, a range of route changes are coming into effect at the end of September, with a second round of improvements due to be in place by the end of January 2018.
At the end of September, 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 The number 15 Ruakura bus will be withdrawn as part of these changes to reduce duplication of services and in response to relatively low utilisation.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 also being simplified within the vicinity of the University. Buses will now travel via Ruakura, Knighton and Clyde streets. Obiter buses will no longer go along Old Farm or Cameron roads. This is to improve journey times, service reliability and provide coverage to Ruakura Road stops following the removal of the 15 Ruakura service.
As part of the changes, Hamilton City Council are installing new bus stops near Innovation Park. Previous Orbiter stops on Old Farm Road and Cameron Road will now be served by the 13 University services.
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.”
The council will be providing extensive information about the changes in the weeks leading up to the rollout of the new routes. Full details are at www.busit.co.nz