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Published: 2003-02-03 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s new electronic bus ticketing has proved a hit with bus passengers in Hamilton.

The new service, which runs from an electronic debit swipe card without the need for cash transactions, was introduced in November. A total of 3900 tickets were sold until just after Christmas, and another 1500 sold in the last couple of weeks. About 6000 are expected to be in use by the end of March.

This week’s Regional Passenger Transport Subcommittee heard that the ticketing machines are now on all 46 contracted services, and the changeover to the new system went quite smoothly for such a major operational change.

Sponsorship from a local radio station had been obtained for the cost of ticket holders and an opportunity was available to use advertising on the back of the 1.6 million tickets produced. The first ads would involve new rating information, and subsequent advertising would reduce the cost of the ticket rolls.

The advent of electronic ticketing machinery raised opportunities for expansion of the system to include using one ticket for both school and city runs, using the ticket for park-and-ride parking costs and other electronic information.

Chairman David Peart said Hamilton was the first city in New Zealand to have a fully integrated bus system and had had excellent co-operation from the bus companies in introducing the system.

Policy Group Manager Jeanette Black said the system was costing less than traditional ticketing and transaction costs were very low. The Council was making considerable efficiencies and customers were happy with the system.

Bus use had grown by 7.4 percent above the same period last year, with the largest increases in the university and Hillcrest services. The Northerner service use was picking up slowly and was mainly used by school children, and shoppers and pensioners in the middle of the day.

Huntly services picked up during the year with extra capacity needed to accommodate Hamilton high schools. Raglan services had been well used in the first few days of the school term, with times shifted to give travellers more time to get to the transport centre.