Council eyes hike in bus fare

Bus fares are likely to increase as the Invercargill City Council seeks to offset costs of public transport.

Fares could rise by up to 20 cents a ticket when the council reviews the service in February.

Council senior traffic officer Eddie Cook said a small fare increase was likely to be introduced next year to make the service more efficient.

A major overhaul of the bus service in 2012, which reduced the number of city bus routes from 10 to four and introduced new fares, cut the annual costs of the service to $890,000.

However, costs had now increased to $950,000 annually with inflation, Cook said.

Introducing higher fares was one way to recoup more of these costs, he said.

The council is aiming to recover 40 per cent of the service costs through passengers.

Before the new system was introduced, the service had a recovery level of 20 per cent, one of the lowest in the country.

The level had now increased to 34 per cent, Cook said.

Attracting more passengers, by changing existing routes to better accommodate workers or schoolchildren, would also help increase the amount recovered, he said.

It was better to introduce minor changes regularly and save passengers a large increase in fares every five years.

"If you just do a little bit at more frequent times, it's a lot easier for everyone."

Cook remained positive about the state of the service, with passenger numbers slowly on the rise.

The 2012 changes slashed numbers from 380,000 per year to 275,000.

Numbers had now increased to about 285,000 per year, and Cook expected about 340,000 to ride annually by 2020. A bus trip at peak-time costs $2.60 for adults and $1.70 for children and seniors, while off-peak trips cost $1.20.

The Southland Times