Bus patronage in the region, which broke through the 2 million mark for the first time in the 2005/2006 financial year, continues to soar.
Figures just released for September show that while the number of passengers in the total region has increased by 14.7 per cent, rising from 190,404 in September 2005 to 218,563 in September 2006. Bus patronage in Hamilton during September also increased 17.2 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
"The impact of higher oil prices has clearly resulted in increasing numbers of people across the region choosing to take the bus,” says Environment Waikato's chairman, Jenni Vernon.
“That is why Environment Waikato is providing more buses, more often, and making them more comfortable to ride in.”
Environment Waikato's 2005/2006 Annual Report, which was adopted at yesterday's Council meeting, shows that bus patronage grew strongly across the region over the financial year, rising by 9.3 per cent from 1,972,788 passengers in the 2004/2005 year to 2,156,268 passengers in the 2005/2006 year.
This patronage has been boosted by major enhancements to bus services, particularly in Hamilton during the past 12 months. Among the new services are:
Within the wider region, Environment Waikato has also assisted with providing a new three-day a week service from Mangakino to Tokoroa, in conjunction with the Lakes District Health Board, Tokoroa Local Management Group, and the Taupo District Council. During the 2005/2006 financial year, overall patronage on rural services increased almost 10 per cent, with marked growth in the Paeroa and Taupo services.
In our Annual Passenger Transport Survey, 96 per cent of respondents rated the bus service as satisfactory or better - an increase of 3 per cent since 2004.
At the regional planning level, Environment Waikato chaired the Regional Land Transport Committee which developed the Regional Land Transport Strategy during the 2005/2006 year - providing a key planning document for the integrated development of transport options across the region, as well as ensuring synergy with inter-regional routes.
Apart from transportation, other highlights of the 2005/2006 year include significant progress on a number of projects including:
We also worked very closely with the Department of Conservation to eradicate feral goats in the northern Coromandel Peninsula. This two-year joint effort has created a 17,000 hectare goat-free area where the bush can recover and native plants and animals thrive.
We also collected nearly 5,000 kg of unwanted agrichemicals during the year. Getting these toxic substances out of sheds and backyards will reduce the risk of contamination in years to come.
On the financial side, Environment Waikato's 20005/2006 year has seen a positive financial outcome, with the council ending the year in a strong financial position.
The year-end result was a surplus of $2.882 million, against a budgeted surplus of $2.003 million. This result is after accounting for the loss on the revaluation of some of our infrastructural assets of $121,000. The key contributor to this favourable financial position was the higher than budgeted return from the council's investment fund.
Environment Waikato's Annual Report has received an unqualified audit from Audit New Zealand.