Fight for fairer bus zone prices

ZONING IN: Bus prices will be made fairer as transport bosses re-think the zones.
ZONING IN: Bus prices will be made fairer as transport bosses re-think the zones.

A re-think of Auckland's proposed public transport zones is in the works to ensure communities in the south pay fair prices for trips into the city.

Last month Auckland Transport proposed a shake-up to city bus services which aimed to provide buses every 15 minutes on a "frequent service network", and zone-based fare systems allowing unlimited travel at a certain time on buses and trains.

The idea was slammed by Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford who said the zone system favoured those living on the North Shore over West and South Auckland residents who were more likely to come from low-income families.

Councillors yesterday backed his criticisms telling an Auckland Council transport committee meeting the plan needed "further adjustment to the fare boundaries to ensure better outcomes".

Commuters from South Auckland were at the heart of councillors' concerns.

"We suggest that there might be ways of improving this zone system, so it's a bit fairer - there are a few anomalies in this system, in what's proposed," principal transport planner Joshua Arbury said.

"For example, a trip from Mangere to the city is three zones, whereas a much longer trip say from Long Bay to the city would only be two zones."

Arbury said some of the zones are very large, which means a short trip might be very expensive - the larger the zones, the higher the base fee needs to be.

To resolve the issues, he proposed several options.

One was to change the transport zones to be laid out in 10km rings across the city, and another was to put towns in the Southern Initiative into a single zone.

The Southern Initiative aims to improve the standard of living in lower socio-economic areas including Mangere-Otahuhu, Otara Papatoetoe, Manurewa and Papakura.

"That would make trips from Papakura to the airport fall within one zone rather than two," Arbury said.

For the northern parts of Auckland, Arbury suggested splitting the North Zone into two areas, so there would be smaller fare jumps between zones.

The committee supported the draft regional transport plan, but also decided to get Auckland Transport to review public transport zones.

Auckland Now