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Big Improvements To Waikato’s BUSIT Services Coming

Waikato Regional Council is set to rollout the biggest changes to its bus network for several years, with significant timetable and route improvements and a new ticketing system.

The rollout of the new ticketing system in the next two months was endorsed at a recent regional connections committee meeting and adopted at today’s Waikato Regional Council meeting.

“News the new ticketing system will be here in July will be a cause for celebration by our passengers,” said regional connections committee chair and Waikato regional councillor, Angela Strange.

“The Bee Card will replace the BUSIT card, providing passengers with the ability – for the first time in the Waikato – to tag on-tag off and check and top-up their card balances online. It will make bus travel smarter and easier,” she said.

Installations of the new ticketing system on board buses is expected to occur over the next month. The Bee Card will be available in June from a dedicated website (beecard.co.nz), or by calling the BUSIT Infoline or picking one up from the BUSIT counter inside the Transport Centre. The cards will need to be registered.

Until the new ticketing system is available, travel on the BUSIT network will remain free.

“Passengers will then see fare prices initially cut from what they are normally while the Bee Card system gets up and running. This will allow time to register concessions because it requires face-to-face interaction with some customers,” Cr Strange said.

Meanwhile, most of the bus timetables in Hamilton will have minor changes from Monday, 8 June, to ensure drivers are getting adequate breaks.

“Regional council staff have worked closely with Go Bus to rework some of our timetables to fit the new employment legislation requiring drivers to have a break at least every two hours,” Cr Strange said.

“The changes to our services have been made following consultation with passengers and the wider public last year. Where the proposals weren’t going to work for residents we generally adjusted what we were planning to do,” she said.

Angela O’Leary, Hamilton city councillor and deputy chair of the regional connections committee, said the welcome introduction of the Bee Card coincides with changes to Hamilton bus routes which reflect the city’s growth.

“Making public transport easier to use and more responsive to the changing needs of our communities is really important. These changes will make our city easier to get around and it’s great to see feedback from passengers and other residents reflected in the new services,” Cr O’Leary said.

There are six Hamilton routes with significant changes. This includes the current 26 Bremworth Temple View. The route will be split into two branches – one branch will run from Temple View to town, the other from Bremworth to town.

Because of this, Temple View residents will experience a much quicker trip into the CBD – around 5-10 minutes faster than the current routes via Bremworth and Dinsdale.

Additional early morning and late evening trips have been added for both areas and the new Route 19 will operate on Sundays and public holidays.

The terminus for 8 Frankton will change to Rotokauri Rd near Kawariki Drive in the Rotokauri Rise area. All trips will start and end here providing a frequent bus service to this fast-growing residential area.

Similarly, all services for the 1 Pukete will now start and end at Maui Street, delivering better connections to this growing commercial and industrial zone.

The council is combining the 17 Hamilton East Uni and 29 Hamilton Gardens bus routes to provide a better overall service to the Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton East and University areas.

Between 9:32am and 1:32pm weekdays, the service will travel from town to the university via the Hamilton Gardens.

However, on weekends and public holidays the service will only travel to the Hamilton Gardens and cemetery. The new timetable includes later afternoon trips to and from the Hamilton Gardens, allowing bus users to spend more time at the popular attraction.

The Rototuna Circular route will change to better serve the northern end of Flagstaff near Te Ao Mārama School and the new housing and retail areas nearby. Between 9.30am and 2.30pm weekday services will be reduced from half hourly to hourly. The last trips of the day will no longer operate.

The regional connections committee comprises Waikato regional and Hamilton city councillors, supported by an access and mobility and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency representative.

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