Saving hundreds of dollars on petrol will be worth the 5am starts for two students from Eltham.
A daily bus linking Hawera and New Plymouth was launched by the Taranaki Regional Council this week, with the majority of seats taken up by Witt students.
The service got so many bookings the 19-seat vehicle had to be replaced with a 42-seater, regional transport manager Chris Clarke said.
Even the bigger bus was struggling to cope with the demand.
"When we got to Inglewood the last couple of seats were filled," Mr Harris said.
Witt accounting students Jarrod Harris and Quintin Trask, of Eltham, said the service was a good alternative to driving to the campus each day.
"We'd spend a lot of money on petrol."
But Mr Trask admitted he was struggling with the early starts.
"I got up at 5."
The students catch the 5.30pm bus back to Eltham.
Funded by Taranaki District Health Board and Witt, most of the demand was from students but the service was also intended for people travelling to Taranaki Base Hospital.
It is free for these people, but the general public fare from Hawera is $12, dropping to $5 from Inglewood.
Mr Clarke said the challenge was to make sure the service was being used by people travelling south as well as north.
The bus has specific stops in each town to discourage people from waving it down and to keep it flowing as smoothly as possible, he said.
The TRC is looking to secure private sponsorship for the service because it doesn't meet New Zealand Transport Agency funding criteria of relieving major congestion in urban areas.
- Taranaki Daily News
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