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Published: 2007-01-19 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is celebrating a massive increase in bus use across the region.

A report released today showed December 2006 patronage up 36.1 per cent on December 2005.

The rise was mainly attributable to an increase in bus use in Hamilton, with ticket sales up 38 per cent.

However it was also a great month for rural services, with patronage up 16.4 per cent over December 2005.

Environment Waikato land transport operations manager Russell Turnbull was “blown away” by the figures, which “ended a hugely successful year with a real bang”.

“December was our best month yet and that signals an encouraging trend,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Environment Waikato is working hard to broaden the appeal of sustainable transport by improving bus services across the region.

“It’s great that more and more people are getting on board our buses. By doing that they’re choosing an environmentally friendly transport option, so everybody wins.”

Across the region, patronage increased 19.5 per cent for the six months from July to December, over the same period in 2005. Hamilton city’s figure was even higher, at 21.4 per cent.

“Although the new Orbiter service has provided a real boost to ticket sales, month-by-month comparisons show ticket sales up across all city bus services, so we’re really pleased,” Mr Turnbull said.