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Published: 2010-02-08 00:00:00

Latest figures show significant annual growth in Hamilton bus passenger numbers is continuing even though few new services have come on stream in the past year.

The city has seen double-digit growth rates in recent years as new services are introduced, bringing buses within reach of more people in Hamilton.

But, in the year to December, few new services have been introduced in the city.

However, a report to today’s meeting of the regional Passenger Transport Committee showed December 2009 passenger trip numbers at 305,778 were still 5.8 per cent ahead over the same month in 2008, while financial year to date growth was 6.8 per cent better at more than 2.2 million.

"Compared to recent years’ growth this percentage rise may seem small," said committee member and Hamilton councillor Paula Southgate.

"But for the first time we are starting to get close to comparing like with like growth – that is we are running a similar level of service to a year ago so this is real growth."

The stand-out success story in December was the Night Rider service which for the first time carried more than a thousand passengers in a month. The increase has been assisted by new marketing strategies and a new livery for the buses, Cr Southgate said.

"The bus culture is taking further root in Hamilton which has got to be good for unclogging our roads and making our main city more efficient."

She noted fares covered 35 per cent of costs in Hamilton in December, showing the level of general ratepayer subsidy for buses was on a downward trend.