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Published: 2009-07-20 00:00:00

Hamilton’s buses carried more than four million passenger trips last year, a new record figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Zealand

The four million figure is also almost 800,000 more than last year.

Latest statistics for the financial year ended June 30 show there were 4,242,416 passenger trips on the buses in Hamilton.

That was 21 per cent higher than the 3,479,459 trips in the 2007-08 year, and 57 per cent higher than the 2,689,855 trips in 2006-07.

The introduction of two new Direct services, Sunday buses, and a range of other network enhancements all helped increase the numbers in 2008-09, said the deputy chair of the Regional Transport Committee, EW’s Cr Paula Southgate.

The introduction of Government-subsidised free off-peak travel for SuperGold card holders was another factor boosting off peak patronage, as were high petrol costs.

"More than four million passenger trips in one year is a fantastic result for Hamilton," said Cr Southgate.

"We believe our improved services, high petrol costs and greater public awareness of buses as a cost effective and efficient way of getting about, have all helped us achieve this milestone.

"The growing use of Hamilton’s buses is a real success story for the city, as greater bus use helps ease traffic congestion and helps ensure that those without cars have a reliable form of transport. It also helps to delay the need to spend money on building new roads, and helps to protect the environment from the impact more roads and more traffic would create.

"We will look to make further network improvements in line with the Passenger Transport Plan. We are determined to continue growing patronage in Hamilton while maintaining a high quality standard of service at an affordable price," Cr Southgate said.