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Published: 2003-06-12 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has approved an increase in frequency for city bus services so it can take advantage of Transfund funding.

A special meeting of Environment Waikato’s Council heard that Transfund’s Kick Start funding – which represents 40 percent of the cost of the new services – must be up and running by June 30 to qualify for subsidy.

That means contract amendments have to be in place by next week, and the Council has to give staff a direction to enable the changes to be made.

Surveys showed those who want improved services total 54.7 percent of those who responded to either Draft Annual Plan Submissions or a questionnaire leaflet delivered to households. Those who wanted to retain the services as they are now numbered 40.5 percent.

Hamilton City Council also supported the introduction of new services, later evening services and Real Time information systems.

Approval from Transfund for the new services was subject to ongoing patronage increases, a review in six months, comprehensive marketing, Council funding of the remaining 60 percent and the services starting by June 30.

It did not approve funding for the Real Time information system, which would provide displays of when the next bus would arrive at hub transport areas, but is working with Environment Waikato to access funds through other avenues.

The Passenger Transport rate will not be set until July 1, but the meeting heard that no financial difficulties were likely in the interim. A major marketing plan would be put in place in July to promote the new services.

As a result, services on most routes, other than Nawton, Fitzroy and Bremworth where patronage is lower, will be increased to half hourly before the end of June.