Public transport fares ‘unfair’
Wellingtonians pay more than three times as much for public transport than other New Zealand commuters, Wellington City Council research shows.
The figures are revealed in its submission opposing a planned 3 per cent fare increase for Wellington public transport users from next July.
The increase is in a raft of changes proposed by Greater Wellington Regional Council, including discounts for tertiary students, off-peak travellers and blind and disabled passengers, and a 50 per cent discount for school students.
The research found Wellington residents paid between 60 cents and 180 cents per kilometre travelled.
Those outside the region paid just 10c to 40c per kilometre.
The submission said while the city council did not control the public transport network, it had a duty to advocate for residents.
Fares could be reduced if the regional council used less fare revenue to operate public transport, and more Government money, the submission said. It also suggested using savings made from new bus contracts that
Make fares equitable Investigate fare cap system for regular bus users (such as offering a monthly pass) to bring it in line with rail user discounts
Consider changing fare zone boundaries tomake inner fare zone comparable to other cities.
Relocate fare zone boundaries to a bus stop or railway station
Extend free regional bus connections for rail monthly pass holders to Wellington city come into effect from July.
City council public transport, cycling and walking portfolio leader Sarah Free said she was particularly disappointed with the ‘‘disproportionate’’ benefits for train users compared with bus users.
‘‘‘‘We expected the package of improvements to move much more towards equity for all mode users than this package indicates.’’
One main objection was a proposal to scrap the discounted monthly bus pass, et retain a
monthly rail pass offering discounts of up to almost 40 per cent.
The city council also opposed regional bus fares being able to be incorporated into monthly rail passes, but not city bus fares.
‘‘People in Wellington often have no other option but to catch the bus,’’ Free said.
Regional councillor and sustainable transport committee deputy chairman Daran Ponter said there was an inequity between bus and rail users, and the council would ‘‘level the playing field’’ when an integrated ticketing system was introduced in 2020.
Public transport advocate Tony Randlesaid scrapping a proposed fare increase for one- zone bus travel within the city would be of more benefit.
‘‘It’s a token sop. I want to know, are they still going to put the fares up by 25 per cent?’’
Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said they had put out a ‘‘balanced package’’ for debate.
‘‘That’s the whole purpose of this exercise,’’ he said.