Wellingtonians pay more than anywhere else in NZ for their public transport

Wellington City Council is opposing plans for an overall 3 per cent fare increase for the region's public transport users.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Wellington City Council is opposing plans for an overall 3 per cent fare increase for the region's public transport users.

 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 a council submission  opposing a planned 3 per cent fare increase for Wellington public transport users from July next year.

The overall increase is part of 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 council says Wellington city bus users have been given a raw deal compared with regional bus users.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

The council says Wellington city bus users have been given a raw deal compared with regional bus users.

The research found Wellington residents paid between 60 and 180 cents per kilometre travelled. Those outside the region who paid just 10c to 40c a kilometre.

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The council submission said about 33 per cent of Wellington residents could not afford public transport and, while it did not control the public transport network, it had a duty to advocate for its residents.

Wellington city councillor Sarah Free hopes Greater Wellington Regional Council will review its fare proposals.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Wellington city councillor Sarah Free hopes Greater Wellington Regional Council will review its fare proposals.

It also found the regional council's 57 per cent of public transport operating costs generated through fare revenue was significantly higher than in Auckland (44 per cent) and Canterbury (38 per cent).

Fares could be reduced if the regional council used less fare revenue to operate public transport, and more Government money, the submission says.

It also suggested using savings made from new bus contracts that come into effect from July.

Greater Wellington regional councillor Daran Ponter says there is an inequity between the region's rail and bus users.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Greater Wellington regional councillor Daran Ponter says there is an inequity between the region's rail and bus users.

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.

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"We recognise the fact there needs to be a fare increase, because the regional council has held fares steady for a long time," she said.

"We've been waiting for this fares package, but we expected the package of improvements to move much more towards equity for all mode users than this package indicates."

One of the council's main objections was a proposal to scrap the discounted monthly bus pass in Wellington city, while retaining 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.

"They don't have car parks, they can't walk to work, cycling's not for everybody, and they are paying a lot of money to commute. We're just hoping some of this can be reconsidered."

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.

"People will have a single card ... We are looking to eliminate that inequity altogether."

Public transport advocate Tony Randlesaid scrapping a proposed fare increase for one-zone bus travel within Wellington 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?"

"Why does Wellington city always get dumped on? They [rail users] have got brand new trains, brand new stations, and pay less to get further.

"Wellington city still gets screwed over."

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said many people had concerns about the proposals and "you can't please everybody".

"We've put out what we think is a balanced package up for debate. That's the whole purpose of this exercise."

 WHAT WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL WANTS:

* 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 to make 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

 - Stuff

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