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Published: 2008-04-02 00:00:00

As the big V8s prepare for their first ever showdown in the inaugural Hamilton 400, a special timetable of free bus services designed to lessen the amount of traffic congestion and reduce the carbon footprint of the event has been announced.

All city buses and additional services to and from the Hamilton 400 will be free from 17-20 April thanks to a special partnership formed between the Hamilton 400 race organisers, Environment Waikato and Hamilton City Council.

Hamilton 400 race organisers are footing the bus fares bill for the weekend while Environment Waikato has invested in extra buses to ensure congestion is minimised and harmful emissions are reduced. Hamilton City Council is supporting the initiative by getting information to the public and race goers about the best way to get around the city over the event period.

The expanded services will assist visitors and residents alike to travel to and from the event easily, thus reducing the amount of traffic congestion and the amount of carbon emitted in Hamilton during the racing. Residents and visitors alike are also encouraged to consider using bicycles and walking as easy and fast ways to get to the event.

As well as running all available buses in the city, Environment Waikato will bring in additional vehicles from Auckland. Importantly, V8s-related route changes will take effect from Thursday but the V8 timetable does not take effect till Friday. Therefore, Thursday will operate under normal times. There will also be five Night Rider bus routes departing and arriving from Collingwood Street between Victoria and Anglesea Streets every 30 minutes. The Night Rider buses start at 12:00am and run until 4:30am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The service covers the majority of Hamilton’s suburbs with routes heading North East, North West, South, East and West.

For visitors travelling to Hamilton on the day, the Hamilton 400 race organisers have arranged Park & Ride services from the edge of the city. There will be large signs on state highway 1, to the north and south of the city, directing people to these special “park & ride” sites, where they can park their cars and catch a bus into the racing. A parking fee will apply.

“Thousands of people are expected to take the bus to the racing and it’s been a big job organising event-specific bus timetables and services,” said Environment Waikato’s land transport operation manager Russell Turnbull.

“While the normal full timetable and extra buses are running at peak times, there are changes to most bus routes which are detailed in the special Hamilton 400 timetable. That means regular customers will need to check out carefully what’s happening with services in their area during the racing.

“Also, while Environment Waikato has arranged for additional back-up buses to assist as required during peak times, people should remember that services may be very busy and may run slower than normal. Those with important appointments should allow extra travel time to be sure of being there on time. Alternative travel options such as walking and cycling should also be considered,” said Mr Turnbull

Managing director of the Hamilton 400 Dean Calvert said that the decision to make buses free for the weekend was made early in the resource consent planning process.

“We had a vision very early on for an event that utilised public transport to ensure the city could continue functioning at its best with the minimum necessary traffic congestion. The obvious way to encourage as many people as possible to make the most of the bus network was to make it free for everyone, whether or not they were attending the event.

“It’s also another way of thanking everyone in Hamilton for their support of the city’s role in hosting the event.”

Liz Hallsworth, sustainable environment team leader at Hamilton City Council, said that as well as freeing up the city’s roads this was a unique opportunity for promoting alternative transport options.

“We envisage many hundreds of people who would not normally hop on a bus will do so over the weekend. Additionally we have ensured that cyclists will be able to get around the city and to the event easily and quickly, with designated parking at Garden Place and Whitiora school – right on the events doorstep.

“It makes sense for people to start thinking early about how they’re going to be getting about the city during the Hamilton 400.”

Besides free city buses, a number of extra commercial services from Te Awamutu, Huntly and Ngaruawahia are planned for the Hamilton 400. The Busit web site at www.busit.co.nz will have all the details.

Meanwhile, the usual free rugby bus shuttle, on a slightly different route, will be operating for the Chiefs vs Crusaders game on Friday 18 April from 6:30pm. The shuttle can be boarded at “Special Events” bus stops on route and for this match only the rugby shuttle will arrive and depart from Willoughby Street outside Whitiora Primary School.

For more information on the special V8 bus timetable, visit www.busit.co.nz, phone 0800 4 BUSLINE (0800 4 2875463) or visit the transport centre on the corner of Bryce and Anglesea Streets. Timetable copies will also be delivered to hotels and motels around the city.