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Published: 2009-04-07 00:00:00

A new Coromandel bus service run over summer appears to have helped save people from possible drowning or serious injury, says Environment Waikato.

In a report to the regional passenger transport committee, EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale said the service operating between Ferry Landing, Cooks Beach, Hot Water Beach and Hahei helped lifesavers get to Hot Water Beach more easily.

"Hot Water Beach had previously struggled to get adequate life guard cover during the Christmas period. Many of the life guards are teenagers who rely on their parents for transport to Hot Water Beach.

"The bus service provided an alternative means of transport and helped overcome that problem, meaning more guards were generally available.

"I’m advised that in one eight-hour period the guards did over 40 rescues, something that would not have been possible without the additional life guards that the bus service carried," said Mr Dale.

He also said that anecdotal evidence from police suggested this bus service, which ran from 26 December to 8 February had helped reduce drink-driving, particularly on New Year’s Eve.

"It’s very gratifying to see these sorts of bonus result from the service."

The service is due to run next year and will include, at the Ferry Landing wharf, a new bus stop that it is visible from the ferry. A public meeting is due in Whitianga next month to discuss what happens with the Coromandel summer services next year.

A Park and Ride service also operated for two weeks from 2 January this year between Hahei and Cathedral Cove. It is hoped this service, run with crucial support from the local community, can operate again if issues to do with continued use of the Park and Ride site can be resolved.

The summer services were provided by EW in conjunction with Thames Coromandel District Council.