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Gold card in jeopardy

SCOTT MORGAN
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013

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Elderly travellers have given transport leaders a strong message - don't ditch free public transport after 3pm for super gold card holders.

Auckland is the only city in the country that gets extra funding to provide free afternoon and evening services on weekdays for the elderly.

Now the Government has called for a review of the scheme. The extra funding for Auckland is split between the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Council.

Counties-Manukau Grey Power president John Ballantyne told commissioners at a public transport hearing in Manukau that getting rid of the afternoon access could cause big problems.

"If they have appointments with specialists or hospitals and transport is cut off after 3pm, it could be an embarrassment for them.

"Elderly people are finding it hard to make ends meet."

Mayor Len Brown says elderly people have made it clear to him they want to keep the status quo.

"The gold card has been such an asset for the elderly. It means they're mobile around our city and keeps them active."

Mr Brown says he needs to "reflect" on the Government's changing position over funding.

"With the elderly living to a much greater age with higher mobility and lucidity, there's an issue here as a city and a nation. I will be advocating very strongly on behalf of the senior community."

The outcome of the review is expected in June.

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- Eastern Courier

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