Pub­lic trans­port fares ‘un­fair’

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - COL­LETTE DEVLIN AND DAMIAN GE­ORGE

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

COUN­CIL DE­MANDS

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.

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