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Published: 2010-03-30 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is reporting a big jump in the numbers of people using the free Park and Ride bus service to the Balloons Over Waikato event at Waikato University.

Last year, there were about 8500 passenger trips to and from the event. This year there were 9733, a rise of nearly 15 per cent.

Buses to the Balloons Over Waikato ran from five park and ride sites around the city where people could leave their vehicle and hop aboard a bus to the university.

The park and ride sites were at Wintec in Te Rapa, Melville, Grosvenor Park, Frankton Primary School and a city site.

The park and ride operation was designed to prevent major traffic congestion and parking problems around the university itself.

Buses ran from the park and ride sites between 3.45pm and 6.30pm. Return buses ran till demand ceased.

The council’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale said the operation of the buses went very smoothly.

"The buses are proving an increasingly popular part of this iconic event. And their growing popularity shows how they are making an important contribution to the success of major events in Hamilton generally."