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Published: 2008-07-23 00:00:00

Hamilton city bus travel will be free this Saturday as Environment Waikato says thank you to passengers who have collectively made three million passenger trips in a year for the first time.

The surge in bus use – fuelled by rising petrol prices and significant improvements to the council’s bus services over recent years - has driven passenger trip numbers to a series of record-breaking highs recently.

All up, Hamilton bus users made 3.4 million trips around the city over the 2007/08 financial year, compared with 2.7 million over the previous financial year – an increase of 27 per cent.

Regional Land Transport Committee chairman Norm Barker, from Environment Waikato, said 3.4 million passenger trips in a year was a huge achievement and success for the council’s transport team, which had worked hard to make buses a reliable, convenient, comfortable and cheaper travel option.

“Three million trips was a major milestone, especially when you consider that we only hit the two-million mark for the first time last year,” Cr Barker said.

“With more improvements to Hamilton bus services being rolled out, including more direct services to come, we expect buses will be an increasingly attractive option for city residents.

“The free buses on Saturday is our way of saying thank you to Hamiltonians for their support. For those who haven’t tried the buses yet, the free service offers a great opportunity to see what they’re like at no cost.

“Besides providing people with good transport options, Environment Waikato sees buses as a great way to reduce carbon emissions and congestion in Hamilton.”

As well as putting on free Hamilton buses, Environment Waikato is inviting city residents to celebrations at the Transport Centre, on the corner of Bryce and Anglesea Sts, from 10am-noon on Saturday.

There will be family fun, with prize giveaways and special performances by Ruben the Road Safety Bear.

Drop in and enter a draw to win one of three BUSIT! cards loaded with three months’ worth of free travel, or enter online at www.busit.co.nz.

For more information about Saturday’s celebrations, or for information on bus routes and timetables, visit www.busit.co.nz or call 0800 4 BUSLINE.

The BUSLINE team can tell you where to find the closest bus stop to your house and let you know when the next bus is leaving.