Auckland Transport have announced the results of their latest review of public transport fares which should be the last before integrated fares are introduced early next year. They have said that some of the changes are being made now in advance of integrated fares to make that transition easier later on. The changes really depend on how you pay, how far you travel and whether you use ferries or not.

Auckland Transport says the focus of this year’s public transport fare review is to better align short and long distance fares in preparation for a change to a simpler zone based system (integrated fares) next year.

Auckland Transport’s General Manager Public Transport, Mark Lambert, says, “As we continue to pick up the pace of transport changes in the city, improving the fare structure with integrated fares will allow the introduction of the New Network which will see more frequent services on key routes at a minimum average of every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

“This is along with the introduction of the AT HOP card, electric trains on the rail network, the first step towards the construction of the City Rail Link and an investigation of the benefits of light rail. All of these initiatives are designed to give Aucklanders choices that will offer them the freedom to most effectively use that valuable commodity, time”.

The changes to public transport fares through the 2015 review will see:

  • Small increases of between 5 and 10 cents for short distance (stage one and stage two trips) for those using the AT HOP card
  • No increases on longer AT HOP trips on buses and trains, other than for stage five journeys which receive a tertiary concession
  • Stage six and seven child fares, using AT HOP, reduce by 5c and 16c per trip respectively.
  • Some cash fares will increase by 50 cents to increase the incentive for passengers to take advantage of fare discounts that AT HOP provides
  • Some fares on Hobsonville and West Harbour ferry services decrease by between 24c and 50c a trip.
  • Tertiary and child concession fares will now be available on the InnerLink bus service

There will also be some changes to pricing for the CityLink bus service. This service had received funding from the Heart of the City business organisation and Waterfront Auckland however that subsidy has now ended. Auckland Transport therefore, reluctantly, has introduced a 50 cent (adult single trip), 40 cent (tertiary student single trip) and 30 cent (child single trip) fare for a AT HOP card users. Single trip cash fares will be $1 for adults, 50 cents for tertiary students and 40 cents for a child.

Mr Lambert says that on average fares contribute 47% to the total cost of providing public transport services – the remainder is provided through government (NZTA) contributions and rates subsidies. He says while petrol and diesel prices have fallen over recent months, and fluctuated in recent weeks, fuel prices make up only a small percentage of operator costs and by far the largest expense is wages.

Public transport patronage growth has continued strongly during recent fuel price reductions showing that customers are choosing to use improved services rather than sit in traffic congestion, he says.

Latest figures show that public transport patronage is at an all-time high. Public transport patronage totalled 76,480,955 passenger trips for the 12 months to January 2015, an annual increase of 9.4%.
Rail patronage alone totalled 13,000,000 passenger trips for the 12 months to January, an annual rise of 20.0% a rise of two million journeys in one year.

For more:

Overall the changes don’t seem too bad and for most people probably won’t have any impact – or at least not too much. For a commuter in the inner suburbs it represents about $1 extra per week. AT say that one of the reasons for the shorter stages going up is that compared to other cities our shorter stage fares are quite cheap but our longer stage fares are expensive so this is a way of helping align those better.

Those that will be impacted the most will be those still paying by cash and hopefully these changes will see even more people move across to using HOP.

For ferries the changes are dictated in part by the commercial services to Devonport, Stanley Bay and Waiheke. For the rest of the services the price changes are also about aligning fares hence the increases to Half Moon Bay but decreases to West Harbour and Hobsonville as they are a similar distance.

The changes are below.



Lastly because it’s often raised I questioned about Fare Evasion. AT say that on average it’s at 6-8% across the network but as high as 40% at some individual stations with some of the worst being Fruitvale Rd and Henderson. They say every 1% of evasion is equivalent to about $300k in revenue so any actions to improve it needs to take that into account. They did say New Lynn will be gated in June which they think will help address some of it. Also any new stations – such as the new Otahuhu station – will be designed to have gates.

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  1. Does increased patronage markedly change cost recovery? I notice (for example) that over the years, usage of evening buses has gone up hugely, and people are also getting on mid-route far more than used to happen. It is now common to have a ‘standing room only’ Sandringham or Mt Eden bus from the university stops, and years ago there would have been three or four people aboard.

    1. Yes. More efficient utilisation of existing services is better for farebox recovery. However as demand grows and more services are required then cost go up too… Bigger vehicles like double deckers increase the ratio of travellers to driver. The driver being the biggest cost. This is also a big part of the move to Light Rail, as trams have even more riders per driver, trains even more again. And the later run on electricity not diesel. But these systems require high one off civli engineering capital investments and more expensive machines. So it goes.

      Take the CRL for example, although expensive to build it will increase the efficiency of the entire rail system by enabling it to carry significantly more riders. Many millions more each year. Capital investments need to be made to increase performance and reach of the system and reduce operating costs per user.

      1. While you would think that higher patronage would increase cost recovery, the answer is not straightforward and not necessarily yes.

        The reasons being:
        1. Many contracts are net cost, and hence 100% of the additional fare revenue for these contracts flows to bus operators. Hence, AT receives nothing from their investments in, for example, bus lanes and HOP. This is typical of the net cost contracting model forced on us in the 1990s by the last (hugely uninformed) National Government; and
        2. Central government delays to implementing a new contracting model (thanks to the most recent, also uninformed National Government) has meant that bus contract costs in Auckland has spiraled upwards as short-term contracts are rolled over and bus operators seek to capitalise assets on a short-term basis.

        1. From my understanding this is about to change however under the new PTOM contracts where all the revenue goes to AT, is this not right?

    2. And capital expenditure can be funded by debt, where it makes sense. This allows the item to be paid for across its lifetime. It this happens as usage increases, then it becomes a lot more affordable.

      1. Yes and debt is the best way to spread the ‘lumpiness’ of the cost of big capital projects out over a longer period and so that it is paid for by those who benefit from it. This is especially important for very very long lasting investments like urban rail tunnels. The earliest example of these built in the mid 1800s in London are still begin used today for the same purpose, well over 150 years later. Neither new technology nor changing tastes have made the spatial efficiency and high capacity of urban rail tunnels redundant yet, and nor is there any sign that this will happen this century either.

        In fact the rise of the digital age has coincided with a renewed rise in urban Transit use and the need for more Rapid Transit everywhere there are cities. Even those old ones that have already got it:

  2. I still don’t understand why is costs more for me to take the train from Morningside to Kingsland than it does for someone to travel from Britomart to Kingsland…

      1. $2.00 Britomart to Kingsland? Oh you lucky JAFAs!
        That’s a distance of 7.25Km (rail route) or 3.84Km (as crow flies)

        An equivalent journey in Wellington would be Wellington to Boxhill.
        That’s 7.26Km (rail route) or 3.67Km (a c f).
        And the fare for that?
        A whopping $5.00 adult single, or $4.00 off-peak.

        It even costs $5 ($4 off-peak) from Wellington to Crofton Downs and that’s only 4.73Km (r r) / 2.84Km (a c f)

        Spare us a thought. We’re being ripped off down here.

        1. It’s $2 from Britomart to Kingsland because (without the CRL) the train route is indirect. Kingsland is the stage point for buses too which don’t travel as far to get there.

          Contrast with Newmarket being the fare stage point for both buses and trains heading south.

          1. One of the throwback quirks of the system. Those fair stage boundaries have been in place for decades.

  3. Moving to Hobsonville Pt in June, so pleased to see 40c decrease per HOP ride. $4 per week can buy me a coffee on the way to work!

  4. I hope they consider the following; show cost differences more widely( currently journey planner only shows non HOP fares) and increase number of retail outlets- only 5 places in West Auckland cards are available.

    1. Yeah I still dont get why AT culled all the stores… snapper had like 3 retailers in newmarket but now you have to go to the train station. Te Atatu Pen had 2 now only 1. Simular issues elseware. Before someone goes on about auto-topups… please; we know they work great for you! They are not for everybody though…

      1. How hard would it be to just have a vending machine at each train and busway station selling hop cards? If it sold snacks and drinks too the whole thing could even be revenue positive.

        It seems pretty disappointing that the top-up machines at stations weren’t designed to sell cards.

        1. I don’t understand why ticket machines don’t sell cards, at least at major stations. I went to Melbourne last year and was all worried about how I was going to get a Myki late at night (had to take a tram to where I was staying), but the first machine I came to sold cards, so I bought one with a weekly pass on it and I was all set. Effortless. Why can’t we do that? (And why can’t we do daily and weekly passes?)

          1. Probably because they cheaped out on them. Dailies are there, they’re just rather expensive ($16). The good thing about them is that they last for 24 hours after you first tag on with one. The old ones were only valid for a set period (9am to 5am, I believe).

          2. Here’s hoping we get reasonable daily caps, and weekly caps when integrated fares are introduced.

  5. Pleased that the longer fares are left untouched. These were fairly high by most standards. The substantial reduction in oil prices will have reduced their cost pressures considerably. Increased ridership has probably also had a large impact.

  6. As a stage 1 commuter I don’t think I can complain too much about the price of my fares. AT had previously indicated that before full integrated ticketing was introduced, there would be a transition stage with reduced or nominal fares for transfers. Is that still going ahead, or are they planning to go from status quo to full free transfers now?

    1. I’ve always wondered this – even when you’re logged it only displays cash fares. That website is a dog top to bottom.

  7. I would like to see the Council addressing their share of the 43% subsidy for ticket prices. Farmers had all their subsidies slashed to zero by the Lange Government.
    Why can’t our cancel do the same with respect to public transport? The savings would help their capital spending budget and ratepayers budgets as well.

    1. Don all transport is subsidised, 50% of local roads [ie every road except State Highways] are funded by rates. Please please try to understand that public transport is not alone in receiving a subsidy. And that it’s a smart way for society to function rather than being some kind of crazy out of date trick pushed onto an otherwise user pays world. It’s not.

      1. Is there any way we can find out how much money pt providers are making? I don’t want all the efficiencies of the new networks going in their pockets. Why don’t we increase the farebox recovery giving less money to them instead of getting more from me?

        1. is there any way we can find out how much money pt providers are making? – For some of the operators we can, for example NZ Bus (link, metrolink, go west, wakapacific) is owned by Infratil. Infratil Ltd is (like all companies publicly listed on the share market) required to publish financial reports containing information of profitability.

          I don’t want all the efficiencies of the new networks going in their pockets. – Bus routes in Auckland are competitively tendered. This is generally accepted as a way of ensuring suppliers take only reasonable profit margins (compensation for the risk that they carry). I believe the tender process could be tuned to better serve the city, but any gains are likely to be fairly minor. Some also believe city are better to run transport services themselves rather than sending them out to tender, this comes with pro’s and con’s.

          1. It’s very difficult to find out really how much they get paid. A large number of services are commercially run and others are on a net cost model where the operator asks AT for a top up to cover what they don’t collect in fares. Sometimes it can be one bus on a route doing commercial runs and the next doing contracted ones depending on the time of the day. With the new network all services (bar some of the ferry ones and the Airport Express) will be on PTOM contracts where all revenue goes to AT and the operators only get a slice depending on performance. Further given AT have just been rolling over tendering for some years with existing operators it’s likely we’ll see a lot more competition for routes bringing prices down. In short we should see opex reduce and fare recovery increase.

    1. Snapper was better at this, at least in central and west almost every second dairy had snapper. Miss that tbh. Don’t know why AT are not pushing for more retail locations.

      1. There’s a simple reason for that. It costs AT to have HOP terminals in locations. Snapper did it because they wanted to create an alternative to the eftpos and CC payment systems so needed to have it in more places.

  8. Why are cash fares on the city link in those ridiculous increments? Who carries cash these days let alone coins? How costly is it in delays to provide the change? Min fare $1. Keep HOP on city link free.

    1. Good point – I’d suggest all cash fares should be rounded to the nearest dollar to minimise time spent on cash-handling. It’s reasonable to suggest a minimum fare of $1 given the fixed costs inherent in someone using the system. Yes it’s lumpy, but the pay-off in terms of faster boarding times would be worthwhile. And a further disincentive to pay with cash.

        1. “There will also be some changes to pricing for the CityLink bus service … Single trip cash fares will be $1 for adults, 50 cents for tertiary students and 40 cents for a child.” I.e. you’re incorrect.

        2. > Well they’re already rounded to 50c for this reason.

          Except, for some reason, on the ferries and City Link (for kids).

          1. Yes, I didn’t even know they had a 30c child’s fare. Quite odd. At least that’s been rectified now.

            As for the ferries, I don’t believe AT set those prices.

  9. As a city link commuter, the price increase seems excessive compared to CPI.

    Shouldn’t we just keep increasing the $0.00 hop fare by the rate of inflation? Or at least increase other similar priced services my the same amount – like parking on public arterial roads.

  10. I don’t have a Hop card, but can two people travel together using one card? Tag on twice and then tag off twice. My wife and I basically never use PT and I don’t see the need for two cards.

    1. On the bus you can. Tag in, tell the driver you want to pay for another person, the Hop card then gets placed on the reader on the driver’s machine while the driver enters in the required information. You then only need to tag off once.

    1. Why buy two cards, keep them in CR just to catch a train once a year? I thought one card might be an option, but clearly too difficult for Auckland Transport.

        1. Wouldn’t say broken, cash fares are there for the irregular travellers. The discounts are there to incourage regular travel and therefore works perfectly. If you want discount you need card. Two cards, two people get discount. Easy.

          Single fares can be brought at train stations and on buses with the hop card for extra people, but this is at full cost. So works perfectly in my opinion.

          1. Yeah when i want to go out with my wife her cards usually empty, have to do the stupid tag on and buy a ticket thing which half the drivers get confused with. Hate to go on about snapper but the “multi-phase” tag on was cool and you didnt get charged cash.

          2. @Patrick
            You mean that lovely thing where if your card gets lost / stolen you may or may not get the deductions stopped correctly, but when you get to the end of the year they will automatically stop it, but not tell you about until you try to use the card and have run out of money?

            That’s yet another of those things they really need to improve. Like the “up to 3 days delay” in topping up your card.

          3. just register it, dood, then you can transfer any balance on a lost card to its replacement. Not hard. My kids are good at loosing them. They then have to trudge into Britomart and sort it out themselves. Good way to learn to take better care of their stuff.

  11. an increase will slow single stage boarding, as the vast majority of people rock up with a $2 coin, it’s so simple and easy

  12. A lot of the workers around Wynyard Quarter, particularly AirNZ building use the train and inner link as their transport options…will be interesting to see what the consequences of introducing a paid fair to this service will do for their travel patterns, this is an extra $1 a day increase for them.

    1. Not really as city link still gets 50c transfer discount so that part is free (although at least for the one of the journeys that ends up making train fare 50c less)

      1. Ah true I forgot about this! Sorry take that back not going to make a huge difference to this route then as most of the fares will be transfers!!

        1. And to make matters worse AT is hitting ferry users with another increase – we are already being charged double the fare that bus and train users are being charged by AT. Another useless fare review; what the heck is going on inside AT?

  13. So we still have this odd situation on the Airbus.

    The most convenient way to pay is a HOP card. But, that will cost you $32 for a return, while you can pay a return ticket with cash on the bus for $28.

    You can also buy your ticket beforehand, in a shop or online.

    But actually you can’t. Here’s why: In theory the bus comes every 10 minutes. In practice, you’ll often see 2 or 3 AIR entries come and go on the display at your bus stop. By then, if you are catching a domestic flight, you’ll have to catch a taxi to avoid missing your flight. Congratulations, you just paid $12 on top of your taxi fare.

    And the taxi drivers know this. Very likely your taxi will follow the bus route along Dominion Road to pick up more stranded passengers.

  14. Hop should charge based on Tag on and Tag off locations, not according to the archaic stage-based fare structure. What’s the point of electronics if we don’t change the system at all?

    Why do the first two stages costs $2 each and every other stage is $3?

    My crosstown trip requires me to transfer twice and detour toward the CBD (as there is no direct route), but I don’t think I should be penalised extra because I live and work *just* outside the stage boundaries.

  15. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I really wish AT would invest the time and effort to establish a heavily discounted rate for off-peak weekend trips (as well discounted family passes for the weekend). If you want to see the public transport growth central government is demanding as well as reduce our dependency on private vehicles, something needs to be done to make off-peak public transport trips competitive when compared to the same trip made by car.

    1. When integrated fares are rolled out there will be sweeping changes to fares and I expect we’ll see all of those things. They say they will consult on their planned final fare structure in a few months and implementation is early next year as it has to be in place for the new network. I also understand the change to integrated fares involves significant system development on HOP that will take many months so it’s not just a quick change that can be made.

      1. That’s very comforting to know 🙂

        Off peak travel is a funny subject. On the one hand, I want to go out for dinner & a movie, and have a few wines, so PT is perfect. On the other hand, the roads are nice and quiet so I can drive in a few mins. It’s only parking which is annoying ($5/half hour, which almost equates to Uber).
        At Off Peak times, I would like to see a subsidy for travelling in a group or as a family/couple. Even a short distance with 4 people = $8 each way, which is $16, which is more expensive than parking+petrol. I dont now if we can expect to solve all off-peak travel now, but why don’t places like Parnell, Mission Bay, Newmarket, Takapuna, Browns Bay, Ponsonby have more dedicate buses going to them on weekends (or maybe they do?)

    2. We are on track to well exceed central governments patronage targets, but do agree off-peak travel needs to be discounted to encourage further growth. Integrated fares asap please!!

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