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Published: 2007-08-16 00:00:00

The growth rate for bus use is accelerating even further in Hamilton this financial year, according to latest figures from Environment Waikato.

There were 278,260 passenger trips in the city last month, up by just under 60 per cent on July 2006.

That compares to an annual growth rate of almost 40 per cent for the year to June.

Environment Waikato’s land transport operations manager Russell Turnbull said it was pleasing to see that Hamiltonians were recognising and utilising the improved bus services introduced in the last 18 months.

“If we converted the 104,000 extra bus journeys made in July this year back into car trips, it would mean there were probably 4,000 less car journeys being made per day then there would otherwise have been. That’s got to be having a real effect on reducing or minimising congestion.

“Whilst successful new services such as the Orbiter and CBD Shuttle are contributing to our spectacular growth, use of most bus routes is on the increase. We credit this increase to the fact that most buses are now low floor and air conditioned buses, timetables have been improved so as most routes have a bus every 30 minutes right through the day, and of course, the Two Hour transfer ticket has revolutionized transfer between services,” Mr Turnbull said.

Increasing bus use is not, however, limited to Hamilton. Passenger trips on other services were also up. Star performers include Raglan, up 17 per cent, Paeroa, up 23 per cent, and Huntly, up 10 per cent.

Environment Waikato is currently looking at further enhancements to the Hamilton bus network and other regional services, subject to the outcome of this month’s hearings on the council’s Draft Regional Passenger Transport Plan.