Hawke's Bay Regional Council says the addition of more frequent services between Napier and Hastings contributed to a record number of trips on the urban bus service last year.
There were a total of 789,277 passenger trips on the network of 11 routes in 2013, an increase of almost 9 per cent on 2012 passenger numbers and a rise of 81 per cent compared to patronage in 2009.
The council says ongoing improvements to the network have included increasing the frequency of services between Napier and Hastings to every 15 minutes during peak travel hours and every 30 minutes at other times of the day.
The urban goBay bus service is provided by Go Bus Transport under a contract with the regional council that runs until June 2016. Fares are subsidised through a targeted regional council rate and funding from the NZ Transport Agency.
Ticket prices were most recently increased on September 1. The council says the fare hikes were well publicised and as a result were "readily accepted by passengers, with no negative feedback".
More than 3000 bikes were carried on goBay services last year using specially mounted racks. The regional council's transport co-ordinator, Megan Welsby, said the the bike service was not available on express services between Napier and Hastings because it was not possible to attach the racks to the smaller buses used on those routes.
A change to the make-up of the bus fleet, which could mean carrying bikes on express services became possible, would be considered when the service is next put out to tender ahead of the current Go Bus contract expiring in 2016, she said.
A survey of bus passenger satisfaction was carried out late last year.
The findings were currently being collated and would be presented to the council in March.