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Published: 2009-04-03 00:00:00

New figures show there were nearly 10,000 passenger trips on free Environment Waikato-supplied buses to and from the Night Glow during the Balloons Over Waikato festival.

The regional council said today there were 9240 individual passenger trips on the 43 buses running to and from the event at Waikato University.

The provision of free buses was aimed at ensuring people could get to the event easily without contributing to a major traffic snarl up.

"It’s been estimated that about 50,000 people went to the Night Glow so the figures indicate clearly how big a part the buses play in the event’s success," said EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale.

The precise overall passenger trip figures from EW this year back up last year’s estimate that the buses carried about 10,000 passenger trips.

Mr Dale said EW was particularly pleased with how well the event’s traffic management plan worked this year, ensuring hassle-free bus travel to and from the event. Last year, traffic problems led to buses being held up at times.

"The success of this year’s traffic management plan – which ensured unimpeded bus access to and from the university – bears testimony to the close cooperation between EW and the event organisers to make sure travel to and from the event this year went a lot smoother.

"The Balloons Trust deserves a great deal of credit for this."

There were five park and ride sites where people were able to park their car and catch a bus: City Shuttle, Melville College, Frankton Primary, Wintec Avalon and Grosvenor Park Rototuna.

"All sites were used extensively," said Mr Dale. "This year the City Shuttle park and ride site was the stand out performer with Grosvenor Park a very close second."

He said there were large lines of people waiting for buses at the conclusion of the event but all were reasonably quickly on their way back to their homes or cars.