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Published: 2009-04-07 00:00:00

A Government ministry’s Quality of Life survey showing widespread satisfaction with public transport in Hamilton is reinforced by latest figures which show a 25 per cent jump in city bus use so far this financial year.

The figures, presented to the Regional Passenger Transport Committee yesterday, showed 2.67 million Hamilton passenger trips between July 2008 and February this year, a jump of more than 500,000 on the corresponding period a year earlier. The month of February alone showed a jump of almost 20 per cent or 60,000 trips over February 2008.

The result came on the same day that the Ministry of Social Development’s Quality of Life survey for the city showed around 70 per cent of those surveyed found Hamilton’s public transport affordable, reliable and frequent while nearly 80 per cent found it safe and easy to get to.

"Greater use of off peak services is driving our growth overall, a reflection of the fact that our expanded weekend and off peak buses are meeting a definite demand," said EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale.

Off peak demand grew 36 per cent. Once the effects of a new SuperGold card providing free off peak transport for pensioners and other holders is taken out, off peak demand still grew 21 per cent.

Peak demand growth was five per cent, an indication that peak services were operating at close to capacity.

Meanwhile, Mr Dale also noted the very strong growth in patronage in Taupo which had recorded an 85 per cent increase for the eight months to February, a surge attributed to extended routes to the south of Taupo and Acacia Bay, and to fleet improvements.

"This service, paid for by Taupo District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency, is really beginning to find its feet. This is a great result on top of the overall 6.5 per cent growth we have seen in rural bus services use generally."