Weekend family bus and train passes, half price fares for all young people under 19 years, free transfers and cheaper off peak fares, are some of the proposed changes to Wellington public transport fares, endorsed this week by the Regional Council.
The proposed changes form a new fare structure to make the region's public transport more user friendly and attractive. After further analysis and costing, the proposals will go out for public consultation early next year as part of the Regional Public Transport Plan process.
Some of the proposed changes, such as family passes and half price fares for children and young adults under 19, could be in place in two or three years' time, while others – such as free transfers between services, bulk purchase of discounted bus or train tickets for tertiary institutions and other organisations, capping fares after a maximum number of journeys and discounted off peak fares – will take at least five years to implement because they depend on changes to contracts and electronic integrated ticketing.
Electronic integrated ticketing enables you to use just one card for all your public transport travel.
Peter Glensor, Chair of the Council's Economic Wellbeing Committee which is responsible for public transport, says the proposed fare structure is based on a set of very sound principles to help the Regional Council meet its desired goals for public transport. These include: increased public transport patronage, affordable public transport, and a simpler, fairer and more consistent fare system.
He says a really important principle of the proposed new structure is rewarding target behaviours. "This avoids us having to choose winners and losers when making decisions about fare concessions. For example, an across the board concession for all tertiary students would mean every person studying at a tertiary institution – regardless of their economic circumstances – would pay cheaper fares. However, young people on the minimum wage or unemployment benefit, for example, would pay the full fare.
"A system that rewards regular users of public transport by capping fares at, say, 10 trips per week or giving discounted fares to those who travel outside peak hours, is a fairer and more equitable one than one which picks winners and losers. And yet, these changes will benefit many tertiary students, with Victoria University reporting that two thirds of student travel is in the off peak.
"Affordable public transport is another really important principle and goal of the proposed new fare structure. Our Council meeting this week discussed a report on the social impact of changes in public transport fares. We have agreed that Council staff will meet with the Ministry of Social Development about the detrimental impact of transport costs on households with low or very low income, especially amongst beneficiaries in this region, and whether current benefits are sufficient to enable members of those households to have affordable access to public transport."
Details of the proposed fare structure are at www.gw.govt.nz/fare-structure-review