Coun­cil­lors say the rise in fares not fair

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Bus and train fares will rise, de­spite a $4 mil­lion fund the Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil has amassed to off­set oil price rises – and not touched.

Snap­per price, 10-trip, most monthly tick­ets and adult cash fares for more than eight sec­tions will rise by an av­er­age of 5 per cent, start­ing on Septem­ber 1.

There will be no change in adult cash fares up to eight sec­tions or child fares up to nine sec­tions.

Child fares over nine sec­tions will rise 50 cents.

Spe­cial sta­dium fares will rise $2 to $12 re­turn on the Hutt Val­ley line.

Rover tick­ets and af­ter-mid­night fares will not change.

The min­i­mum fare on Wairarapa trains will be $9.50.

Welling­ton-based coun­cil­lors Paul Bruce and Daran Pon­ter, and Kapiti coun­cil­lor Nigel Wil­son, voted against the in­creases.

Mr Bruce said the coun­cil has ac­cu­mu­lated more than $ 4m in an­tic­i­pa­tion of oil price shocks that never hap­pened be­cause of the ris­ing New Zealand dol­lar.

The rises were un­nec­es­sary and ex­tra rev­enue could be cap­tured from in­creased com­muter num­bers fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the more re­li­able Matangi trains, he said.

‘‘We need to do more to en­cour­age peo­ple on to pub­lic trans­port, not pun­ish them year af­ter year with higher fares.’’

Coun­cil eco­nomic well­be­ing com­mit­tee chair­man Peter Glen­sor ac­knowl­edged the fund’s ex­is­tence.

‘‘The dol­lar is very high at the

the mo­ment,’’ he said.

Mr Glen­sor said the coun­cil would spend $2m of it in the next year and $2m more dur­ing the next.

He said Mr Bruce ‘‘ reg­u­larly preaches a lot of doom and alarm over oil prices’’.

Mr Glen­sor said last year’s in­creases were fo­cused on cash fares in cen­tral Welling­ton, and longdis­tance fares.

‘‘Year af­ter year we try to spread it around so that no-one gets hit two years in a row.’’

The Gov­ern­ment has ruled that the coun­cil must re­cover half of the costs of pub­lic trans­port op­er­a­tion from fares, he said.

‘‘It’s well-known that there is some elas­tic­ity. A 10 per cent in­crease in fares brings a 3 per cent drop in pa­tron­age, but it is tem­po­rary.’’

The coun­cil’s trans­port rate in­creased 10 per cent this year and 13 per cent last year.

‘‘I be­lieve that we can­not just keep whack­ing the ratepayer with these costs. We think the 50-50 split is about right,’’ Mr Glen­sor said.

Mr Wil­son said he wanted the coun­cil to fo­cus on ef­fi­cien­cies rather than pass on cost in­creases.

Mr Pon­ter wanted a sim­pler fare sys­tem that gave big­ger dis­counts for stu­dents, off-peak trav­ellers and ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

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