Students promised 'green card' transport

The Green Party is promising a student "green card" equivalent of the pensioners' gold card giving free off peak public transport to help keep living costs down.

Co-leader Metiria Turei and Russel Norman released the policy today at Auckland University saying it would improve public transport, benefit the environment and help take cars off the road.

"We will give all tertiary students and apprentices free off-peak travel on buses, trains and ferries, through a Student Green Card," Turei said.

Transport costs were significant for students, with a 2011 survey by the university students association showing 67 per cent were spending on public transport with an average cost of $35.40 a week.

In Auckland that cost rose to $40.50 a week.

Some cities already recognised the need to help students in this way, and Palmerston North had provided free unlimited travel to students and staff on urban buses since 2004.

In Auckland they already received a 35 per cent discount on some fares.

The Greens' policy would cover all students attending universities, wananga, polytechnics and private training establishments as well as those in apprenticeships.

Norman said estimated more than 350,000 students could benefit from the plan, which would cost between $20m and $30m a year.

The estimate was based on a 30 per cent increase in journeys and an average cost of $1.70 to $2.20 a trip.

The money would come from the National Land Transport Fund and would cost less than one kilometre of the Government's roads of national significance, Transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said.

The Greens would also look at extending the scheme to secondary and primary school students and beneficiaries as well as cutting public transport fares for everyone.