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Increased Public Bus Services Under Alert Level 3

Waikato Regional Council will be increasing its public bus services under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, but numbers on board will still be restricted to meet government physical distancing rules.

Bus travel will also continue to be free until further notice to avoid direct contact between drivers and passengers.

New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 from next Tuesday. All regional services connecting to Hamilton will run to their normal timetables.

While the majority of services in Hamilton will continue to run to their weekend timetable seven days a week, additional trips have been added to some bus routes, such as the Orbiter, to assist with school and commuter travel.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to run buses to the normal weekday timetable in Hamilton due to driver availability,” regional council public transport operations manager Andrew Wilson said.

Physical distancing is also required, so passengers must only sit in the designated spaces. “This means we can’t carry as many passengers, so people relying on buses to get to and from work, school, or an essential service may need to allow a little extra time,” Mr Wilson said.

For up-to-date timetables and route information visit busit.co.nz or call 0800 205 305.

Bus entry will largely be by the rear doors, except at the Hamilton Transport Centre and where passengers – such as wheelchair users – require the ramp for boarding.

During the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 period an average of about 650 passengers per day are utilising public buses – about 5 per cent of the usual patronage. This is expected to increase with travel being opened up to people travelling to and from work, their children up to year 10 getting to school, and those needing to access services such as healthcare and the supermarket.

“With the easing of restrictions under alert level 3 contact tracing is more important than ever. Registering your trip can be done via busit.co.nz or by ringing 0800 205 305,” Mr Wilson said.

Some changes implemented last week (14 April) to the door-to-door Total Mobility transport scheme for people with disabilities will also continue. The Total Mobility scheme provides about 5000 registered users a 50 per cent discount on taxi fares up to a maximum subsidy. Usually the user pays the remainder of the fare to the taxi driver. During the COVID-19 levels 3 and 4 response, the fare will be covered by the council with funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, up to the maximum subsidy. The maximum subsidised fare varies throughout the region and more information is available at busit.co.nz/total-mobility.

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