Fares free for shoppers

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 12:00 29/11/2012

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Free buses during the Christmas period will hopefully help shoppers save on parking, and take some of the stress out of the silly season.

Horizons Regional Council will be providing free buses in Palmerston North on the weekends leading up to Christmas, starting this weekend.

Free buses will also operate in Feilding and Whanganui on Saturdays leading up to Christmas.

Additional home-only services will run after the Palmerston North Christmas Parade this Saturday.

Horizons transport manager Anne Redgrave said people should make use of the free weekend services.

Late-night services would also be added to the regular bus timetable on Thursday, December 13, and Thursday, December 20.

These would run at 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm, and regular fares would apply.

Ms Redgrave said demand for late-night services was evident in submissions to Horizons' long term plan, and while the council could not gain funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency to implement these permanently, it could be something to revisit in the future.

Christmas was a busy time on the region's roads and motorists were often under stress and in a rush, she said.

"The free buses take a bit of hassle out of Christmas shopping.

"The free weekend services offer an opportunity for those yet to try our public transport services to hop aboard and see how easy it is to travel by bus," Ms Redgrave said.

"We know this time of year is a busy one on our roads and by providing free and extra services we hope to take a bit of the hassle out of Christmas shopping.

"We're looking forward to seeing more and more people catching on to the benefits of buses over the coming year," she said.

"We've been making continual improvements to our public transport networks over the last few years and this is reflected in higher passenger numbers."

Patronage had increased by 39 per cent in Palmerston North, 37 per cent in Feilding, and 5 per cent in Whanganui over the past four years, she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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