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New Bus Service To ‘flex’ To Passenger Needs

A new on-demand public transport system trialled over the weekend by Waikato Regional Council has had positive feedback from passengers.

The ride share service started operating on Friday and Saturday nights in the Hamilton CBD from 14 January, and in February will go to and from Hamilton Airport on weekdays.

Fifty-nine rides were booked over the weekend and feedback was great, with people commenting on the convenience, comfort and cleanliness of the vehicles, and friendliness of the drivers.

“This is a very different style of public transport and it’s been a long time in the making. We had hoped to roll it out sooner, but as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown we delayed the launch,” said Regional Connections Committee Chair and Waikato regional councillor Angela Strange.

“For people wanting to get to and from the CBD, we’re really excited to be able to provide an affordable option for people wanting a corner-to-corner service rather than only stopping at bus stops.

“The service will take people with a mobility impairment driveway-to-driveway – all you have to do is let us know when registering on the Flex app,” Cr Strange said.

The buses are smaller and have comfortable seats that are fitted with seatbelts and can carry 13 passengers, or 10 people and a wheelchair user.

Bookings can be made up to a week in advance of travel, or just 15 minutes before you’re ready to go, Cr Strange said. The buses are GPS tracked in real time, so you can track your ride in the Flex app.

Via is a global provider of ride services and transportation technology for transit agencies and companies. “We are proud to partner with Waikato Regional Council to launch an efficient, sustainable on-demand transportation system in Hamilton,” said Ben Hague, Via’s APAC Regional Manager.

“As someone who grew up in Hamilton, I know first-hand that the new Flex service will be an incredible addition to the city, by making it convenient for residents and visitors to use public transport and ultimately, rely less on private cars. Hamilton is a regional leader in innovative mobility, and we’re excited to see how other communities in New Zealand adopt smart on-demand transport.”

For the rest of January, Flex will operate for free on Fridays and Saturdays between 6pm and 4am. Then, from February, for just $2 each way you can ride from anywhere within the Hamilton city boundary to the CBD for the pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, casino, live music, sporting events, ten pin bowling or the movies.

Getting from Hamilton to the airport will cost only $3 each way on Flex, which operates Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm between the Hamilton Transport Centre and Hamilton Airport.

Mark Morgan, Hamilton Airport Chief Executive said: “We’re very supportive of making the airport more accessible to a wider range of our travelling public. So it’s great to see another transport option available to get to and from the airport.”

Cr Strange said Bee Card machines would be available on the buses later in 2022. “Once this happens, we’ll be able to provide Bee Card concessionary travel on Flex, including SuperGold, university and Wintec fares and free accessibility concession travel.

“It means passengers will have the choice of paying either via the app or with their Bee Card on board – they just set their preference in the app.”

Passengers are required to wear a face covering and scan the QR codes on board the buses. The app is free and available from the App Store and Google Play – search Flex BUSIT.

© Scoop Media

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