Public transport fares have remained in the news lately.
A few weeks ago it was revealed council were looking at a few fare reduction options. Last Wednesday, council voted on their annual budget and it included funding free weekend trips for under 16’s. This from the press release.
Free public transport for under 16 year olds on weekends and public holidays will come into effect on 1 September this year following Council’s Governing Body’s support for the Mayor’s Annual Budget today.
The proposal to make public transport free for under 16 year olds on weekends and public holidays was one of a range of new measures in the Mayor’s Annual Budget which was agreed by an overwhelming majority.
Chair of Finance and Performance, Ross Clow, said,
“Free public transport for under 16s will create the next generation of public transport users who will benefit from the $28 billion we are investing with government in delivering a more efficient and effective transport system in Auckland.
The minutes show transport funding agreed in the budget also includes the following items.
- agree an additional $12.2 million operational funding for Auckland Transport in 2019/2020 to address the cost pressures resulting from higher than forecast growth in public transport patronage and additional costs driven by changes to the Employment Relations Act.
- request Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to jointly investigate options to alleviate Auckland Transport’s future operational funding pressures and recommend a course of action as part of the Annual Budget 2020/2021.
- agree to the implementation of ferry fare integration from 1 February 2020 with additional annualised operational funding of $502,000.
- agree to the implementation of free weekend and public holiday travel via public transport for children between 5 to 15 years old from 1 September 2019 with additional annualised operational funding of $643,000.
From a fares point of view, the ferry one will be interesting too. The details of what that entails is listed as
The integrated PT fare scheme includes bus and train services and excludes ferry services. Fully integrating ferry fares ensure ferry passengers pay the same fare for the same journey taken via buses and/or trains. For example, ferry passengers travelling to or from ferry terminals by bus in the same zone will be free, whereas such bus journeys are currently treated as separate trips and chargeable. This is also the step move towards bringing bus, train and ferry services all under the Public Transport Operating Model. The annualised cost for integrating ferry fare only is estimated to be $502,000 and around 28 per cent of ferry HOP passengers will potentially benefit.
It’s not clear from this but my understanding of ferry fares being integrated is that it doesn’t mean they will be the same cost as bus and train fares from the same location but adding a bus or train trip to the start or end of a ferry journey won’t incur extra cost (if within the same zone). For example, an adult bus and train trip from Birkenhead to the city is $3.45 but is by ferry it’s $4.90. Under integrated fares that ferry trip would still be $4.90 but if you caught a bus to the ferry terminal and/or caught a bus within the city centre zone then you wouldn’t be charged extra.
It’s also not clear how this will work with the commercial services of Devonport and Waiheke. Although perhaps with the latter service being in the news recently, it might help push towards changing that commercial status.
It should be noted that Christine Fletcher, Mike Lee, Greg Sayers and Sharon Stewart voted against these changes (and the other parts of the proposal).
Saturday also saw Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announce the government would start investigating options to provide reduced or even free PT for those on low incomes.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today that the Wellbeing Budget will include new funding that could make it cheaper for low income households to use public transport.
Budget 2019 will provide funding to investigate a scheme to reduce the costs of public transport for Community Services Card holders.
“This scheme would make public transport easier to use and reduce costs for low income families,” said Julie Anne Genter.
“For too many people transport costs are a real barrier to everyday activities like going to the doctor, taking the kids to school, or visiting friends and family.
“Making trains and buses more affordable for those who need it will help to ensure all New Zealanders have the opportunity to be earning, learning, caring or volunteering.
“Between 2013 and 2017 the average weekly expenditure on public transport services among people in the lowest income group increased by 63 percent. We know that increasing transport costs hit households on low incomes the hardest.
“Budget funding of $4.6 million in 2019/20 would be used to cover the cost of operational systems needed to implement the scheme, depending on the outcome of initial investigations. Potential sources of funding for the cost of fare concessions are still being explored.
I think this is a good move and Auckland wouldn’t be the first to try something like this. For example Calgary has a monthly low income pass with different rates depending on the scale of the persons income. Prices for it, in NZ $, range from $6.02 to $60.20 per month. By comparison a normal monthly pass is $120.40. One thing I do think that needs to be considered as part of this work is ensuring that there isn’t a stigma that gets attached to someone using whatever system is developed.
Overall. targeted changes like these are likely to have a better outcome than blanket fare reductions.