Hamilton has taken the next step to getting cars off its roads, with free weekend buses for people aged 18 and under.

Waikato Regional Council has agreed to trial Hamilton City Council's proposal for free weekend buses which starts on July 1.

Hamilton City councillor, and chair of the access Hamilton taskforce, Mark Bunting said that the trial is another move in the right direction to get residents off congested roads.

"This is a matter of fixing congestion now. We did a study about a year ago, and worked out that as a percentage of your trip we spend more time stuck in traffic than Aucklanders. Our journeys are shorter but we spend more time in traffic than them," Mr Bunting said.


The trial will allow evidence to be collected to support a further business case for future expansion of the 18 and under free bus service. The trial is being funded out of an existing allocation.

Mr Bunting said residents are beginning to get annoyed at people using the smaller streets to find shortcuts away from congestion points, but instead causing traffic in residential zones.

"It's becoming a very serious danger with kids in those smaller areas and it is something we need to address now."

He said that while the buses were free only to people under 18 on weekends, the trial could be extended out on to week days to help alleviate school traffic.

"Parents will get in the car each morning, take their kids to school, then go to work, then go back to pick the kids up, and then maybe have to take them to sports games or other activities.

"We just need to break this cycle and get the kids on bikes or buses."

A major project that Hamilton City Council has also been working on is the creation of the School Link, which will be a safe cycle way for students along Hukanui and Peachgrove Rd.

However there has been a hiccup in its development after the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has put a hold on funding for the project.

Hamilton City councillor Mark Bunting said creating alternative transport options is a crucial issue for the current and future councils. Photo / Tom Rowland
Hamilton City councillor Mark Bunting said creating alternative transport options is a crucial issue for the current and future councils. Photo / Tom Rowland

"These things are joint ventures, and we have had NZTA suddenly say the money we were going to give you is gone and we can't give it to you anymore," Mr Bunting said.

"The worse bit is we put a lot of money into an enormous traffic budget with the expectation of this funding from NZTA, we rated our residents for it and now NZTA have suddenly said they are not coming to the party."

He said council will do what they can by putting up some temporary barriers between cars and cyclists in areas, while they wait for NZTA to make their next move.

Claudelands Bridge will also undergo changes in the next few months to create a safer connection for cyclists between Hamilton East and West.

Mr Bunting originally proposed the idea to turn Claudelands bridge into a shared pedestrian and cyclist zones with cars, but after mixed feedback scaled down the project.

"We are going to have separated cyclist lanes from both intersections on both sides of the road. When you get to the bridge there will be raised platforms and at the town end there will be a pedestrian crossing across there to give pedestrians more access," Mr Bunting said.

The work is scheduled to begin in July and take up to six weeks.