Councillors say the rise in fares not fair
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.