Two local body politicians are walking the streets for some old-fashioned door-knocking to promote the range of the new bus services, which are due to commence on 1 February.
Environment Waikato's passenger transport spokesperson, Paula Southgate, and Hamilton City Council's transport committee chairman, Dave Macpherson, spent this morning in the Sherwood Park area, talking to locals about passenger transport issues, and distributing timetables for the new Ruakura bus service.
"Our aim is to get more people on buses – and to do this we need to ensure that the bus routes are serving of the major new growth areas of the city," says Cr Macpherson.
"This is why the launch of a new route like the Number 15 Ruakura service is so important, because it will serve the Sherwood Park subdivision, which up till now has been without a bus service.”
The new Ruakura route will travel from the city through Claudelands, down Ruakura Road, loop around Sherwood Park, before stopping at the university – and completing its circuit at Crosher Place off Silverdale Road.
The new Ruakura service is just one of a number of enhancements to the city's bus services commencing from 1 February. Among the other changes are:
The launch of the Chartwell Direct service – which will provide a rapid link for commuters travelling into and out of the city centre from the north-eastern suburbs.
The new Chartwell Direct service will operate at peak times from 6.45am-8.45am and 3.30pm-6.30pm, with a bus departing every 15 minutes. The Direct bus will only stop four times on its route after leaving Thomas Road – namely at Westfield Chartwell, Bankwood Road, Heaphy Terrace and Victoria Street North – prior to arriving at the transport centre in Bryce Street.
The Chartwell Direct is a two-year trial service, which is jointly funded by Land Transport New Zealand, Environment Waikato and the Hamilton City Council.
Northerner extended: The extension of services provided by the Northerner, which acts as a feeder route from the expanding north-eastern suburbs into the Chartwell destination. This loop service will now be expanded to access a range of new subdivisions that have previously been without bus services, including Huntington, St James Park, and Somerton Drive.
Hillcrest expansion: The Hillcrest bus will be extending its route to take in a number of areas that are currently without bus services – namely the Morris Street, Hudson Street, and Riverlea Road areas.
Two hours extra: In addition, a significant number of routes will extend their weekday service by up to two hours – so that instead of buses stopping at 5.45pm, they will now continue until 7.45pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, these services will continue to run till 10.45pm as usual.
"As fuel costs rise, these additional routes will be important for commuters – both in terms of saving on fuel costs, reducing central city congestion, and helping the environment," says Environment Waikato's passenger transport spokesperson, Paula Southgate.
"When combined with the new RealTime system (which tells people exactly when their bus will arrive, thanks to GPS satellite tracking), these new services signal that Hamilton is coming of age in terms of passenger transport."
These new services represent the first stage of a significant improvement to the city's bus services. The next stage will be the launch of the Inner City Shuttle, which is due to commence in the coming months. This shuttle service, which will commence at the new Knox Street car park, is designed to enable shoppers to park their cars at the edge of the CBD, and yet have easy access to the retail heart of the city – without any parking hassles.
The third stage of the planned roll-out will be the launch of the Orbiter service, which is due to start near the middle of the year. This bus, which will circle around the city rather than travelling in and out to the transport centre, will be a major step forward for Hamilton residents who want to travel around the city – without having to change buses.