A Whatawhata to Hamilton bus service will be trialled until the end of the 2012 school year to provide more seats for commuters and students.
The new service begins from Monday 28 May and is one of a number of solutions Waikato Regional Council is introducing over the next month to address heavy passenger loading on Raglan-Hamilton buses.
On school days, a 20-seater bus will depart Glentui Lane at Whatawhata at 7.15am, arriving at the Hamilton transport centre about 7.50am. It will return from the transport centre at 4pm, arriving at Glentui Lane about 4.40pm.
The additional service is expected to cost at least $51,000 and will be part-funded by Waikato District Council.
The remaining cost will be covered by savings made through the withdrawal of the Sunday and public holiday services between Raglan and Hamilton, as well as fares.
The last Sunday/public holiday services will operate over the Queen’s birthday long weekend (3-4 June).
Both councils have agreed the Whatawhata to Hamilton service will only continue to operate if there is demand.
In addition, the current 8.30am service from Hamilton will move to a new departure time of 10.15am from Monday 11 June. This will give tourists and day-trippers getting off 10am coaches an earlier choice of bus and could potentially reduce numbers on the busy afternoon services. The 10am departure from Raglan to Hamilton will move to 11.20am.
Regional council transport and policy group manager Vaughan Payne said: “A lot of work has gone into finding a sustainable solution to the issues being experienced on the Raglan bus services.
“Staging the changes means we can get the new Whatawhata service running quickly, while giving more notice to passengers about the withdrawal of the Sunday and public holiday service and timetable change.
“To ensure workers and students are able to make their weekday journeys we have had to prioritise resources. We recognise that the loss of the Sunday and public holiday service may not be convenient for everyone, but trust the small number of people affected will understand that in a constrained funding environment we do have to make best use of our resources.
“To find the best solutions for our bus users we’ve been working closely with the Waikato District Council, NZ Transport Agency, and Raglan and Whatawhata communities,” Mr Payne said.
A new-look timetable with simplified mapping and fare information will be available to passengers from early June. The timetables will be available online (www.busit.co.nz), on the bus and from Hamilton’s transport centre.
Information about the changes are also available by calling 0800 4 BUSLINE (0800 4 287 5463).