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Published: 2003-09-02 00:00:00

Garden lovers can celebrate the arrival of spring this week with a bus trip to Hamilton Gardens.

Environment Waikato has begun a new Gardens Loop bus service, which takes passengers from the city to Hillcrest and into the Hamilton Gardens. The service operates into the Gardens hourly every second trip during the off peak period from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday and every trip on a Saturday.

Policy Group Manager Jeanette Black told this week’s Regional Land Transport Committee that the Gardens service was one of the city venues passengers had expressed an interest in visiting.

Work was being done at Chartwell to improve access to bus services. Hamilton City Council’s Road and Traffic Group was looking into ways of increasing the amount of shelter available for passengers, possibly using an arched glass cover over the footpath.

A total of 11 companies are looking into tendering for a real time information system for city buses, which provide electronic display of the next bus arrival time. Three companies had already carried out studies of the city’s terrain, routes and number of vehicles involved.

Work was also being done on financial implications of the introduction of a discount for senior citizens and the cost of supplying a ‘Busit’ card with photo ID. A card similar to the existing student ID card could be produced at reduced cost for large numbers. Transfund was also reviewing all concessionary fares, which could affect senior citizens fares.

A City Council report was being prepared into providing bus services after midnight.

Jeanette Black said calls into the Regional Council rates phone line showed people were happy with higher frequency buses and some still wanted more frequency. Patronage had had already increased eight percent in July over the same period last year – before the marketing campaign had begun. Many people had used their free bus ticket provided with rates invoices.

Cycle Users representative Paul Ryan said the buses provided an excellent service that was one of Hamilton’s best kept secrets.