New Sunday bus services for Hamilton have got off to a strong start this week with 4200 passengers carried on 28 September, compared to 4500 on a normal Saturday when twice as many services run.
Land transport operations manager Bevan Dale said the fact that buses were free last Sunday to mark the start of Sunday services may have contributed to the high passenger count.
"But it’s clear that the new Sunday buses are meeting a strong community demand. It was public calls for a Sunday service that led us to bring them in.
"One wheelchair-user passenger described the new Sunday services as life-changing. Previously she has been house bound on a Sunday - she can now get out and about and do things she could only have previously done on days the bus was running."
Mr Dale said Environment Waikato would be monitoring passenger numbers closely over the coming Sundays to see if demand is maintained.
"It’s up to Hamiltonians to help ensure that these services remain viable by using the buses on offer."
The Sunday services are part of a package of new bus operations introduced by the regional council recently.
The others include new public holiday services, increases to Orbiter operating hours and having the Orbiter travel through the Hospital campus.
The Sunday and public holiday services run on 12 key routes and these include the Orbiter, Pukete, Silverdale, Dinsdale, Glenview, Nawton, Fairfield, University, Rototuna, Hamilton East Uni and Te Rapa services. The Sunday services operate on the Saturday timetable, which is hourly. These services are clearly identified by yellow "key route" flags on relevant timetables, on the Environment Waikato website and on all promotional material.
Under the changes, the Orbiter operates from 6.15am until 10pm on weekdays and 6.15am to 8pm on weekends.