The wait for a regional bus in Waipā is longer than the Waikato average – and less than 50 percent of Te Awamutu buses are on time.
Figures were presented at the Waikato Regional Council’s Regional Connections meeting this month.
They show between the start of 2019 and June 2022, roughly 48.9 per cent of the buses in Te Awamutu were on time. In Cambridge, 61.3 per cent of the buses were on time, while the average for the Waikato region was 66.6 per cent.
A bus is described as not being on time if it outside a time range of one minute early and five minutes late compared to its schedule.
Andrew Carnell, regional council team leader for network planning and performance, said a national bus driver shortage was affecting the reliability of Waikato’s bus services. He said the region was 20 per cent short of bus drivers, and in the second quarter of this year, only 52.8 per cent of Waikato buses were on time.
However, the driver shortage isn’t affecting Waipa bus services to and from Hamilton, a council spokesperson told The News.
The district’s bus patronage is slowly returning to its pre-Covid norm.
In the second quarter of this year, Te Awamutu matched its pre-Covid patronage levels with 19,000 trips taken, while Cambridge exceeded its pre-Covid levels with 17,000 trips taken, an increase of 2000 trips compared to the same period in 2019.
Regionally, the overall demand for bus services “is still substantially lower than the pre-Covid period,” Carnell reported.
In the second quarter of this year, Waikato’s average bus patronage was 23 per cent lower than pre-covid levels and 13 per cent lower than the previous year.
During the same meeting, the regional council also moved to add a $5 administration fee to Super Gold Card users purchasing a Bee Card.
The Bee Card has cost $5 for the past two years but has been free for Gold Card users.
Because of a growing demand in applications, the $5 fee was suggested to ensure the sustainability of the existing Bee Card and Gold Card models.