Bus travel is booming around Taranaki, to the delight of the Taranaki Regional Council.
A council report compared passenger numbers from the first half of the 2011-12 year to the first half of the 2012-13 year.
The Inglewood to New Plymouth route was up 36.9 per cent, Waverley to Hawera was up 24.4 per cent, and Opunake to New Plymouth was up 18.7 per cent.
New Plymouth numbers were up 5.7 per cent at 268,720 for the first half of 2012-13, compared to 255,060 in the first half of 2011-12.
The council's director of corporate services, Mike Nield, said he was pleased with the findings.
"It's one of those things that's ‘use it or lose it', so we're delighted the usage is going up."
He said the new services brought in by the council were running smoothly.
"People know and understand when buses are going to be there. It's easier to use."
The bus service was a vital link to urban centres for rural communities, he said.
"All the Southlink services are important for people to go to see the doctor, go shopping, or go to a job interview.
"It gets people out who couldn't get out easily."
All services in the region were performing to budget except the Hawera to Waverley route, which was over budget because the operator provided a second vehicle because of high demand.
The council planned to consult with the operator and community to discuss the potential for a second weekly bus, Mr Nield said.
"The one bus is full. It's a good problem to have," he said.
However, patronage on the Opunake to Hawera (including Manaia to Hawera) service was down 30.8 per cent and the council was investigating why this was.
- Taranaki Daily News
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