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Improvements To Bus Services Sees Jump In Patronage

Improved regional transport services and free bus travel for youth and people with disabilities in Hamilton has seen patronage sky rocket on Waikato Regional Council’s BUSIT service.

A new week day off peak service between Hamilton and Pukekohe, previously a fortnightly service, has seen patronage in January 2020 increase by 118.63 per cent compared with January 2019, and introducing free bus travel for youth and the disabled has seen patronage in urban Hamilton increase 24.84 per cent.

Additional evening trips between Hamilton and Cambridge and Hamilton and Te Awamutu has seen patronage climb 10.83 per cent and 14.51 per cent respectively in the month of January compared to last year, while service improvements for Morrinsville has led to a 3.49 per cent increase.

Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington says the numbers of people using BUSIT’s service has been climbing since 2016 when the council started steadily rolling out the improvements.

“Prior to 2016 patronage was declining year on year by up to 6 per cent, but we’ve been rolling out improvements to boost passenger numbers ever since and the results speak for themselves.

“Patronage started to grow up to 3-4 per cent year on year, and the past year has seen significant growth.”

Overall across the network for the month of January, patronage increased 23.21 per cent for the number of unique trips compared to 7.40 per cent for the same period one year prior.

Elsewhere, patronage on the Huntly-Hamilton service increased 27.71 per cent while patronage on the Raglan service dropped 8.54 per cent.

“A 10 per cent increase for any bus service in New Zealand is massive, and our goal is to have a pipeline of improvements keep rolling out so we continue getting more and more people using our services.”

Later this year, a regular seven day week service between Pokeno, Tuakau and Pukekohe and a daily service between Tokoroa and Hamilton will begin.

There will also be improved services for Taupō and surrounding townships, with the hope of introducing an electric bus, and a new weekday service between Matamata and Hamilton via Morrinsville.

Cr Rimmington says the council is also looking at other improvements, such as having the ability to deliver a demand response to public transport in rural areas, having staff who specialise in rural solutions and improved public transport services for the Coromandel Peninsula and Waipā district.

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