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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. agree to the implementation of ferry fare integration from 1 February 2020 with additional annualised operational funding of $502,000.
  4. 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.

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  1. Both of these measures seem to be good initiatives to increase the usage of public transport. Hopefully, by lower the costs then it will increase the demand. I wonder if it will lead to an increase in the number of goldcard holders taking their grandchildren out on public transport on the weekend?
    The Government policy looks like it is aimed at all of NZ not just Auckland but I wonder if that it will lead to a significant increase in off-peak usage. A simple answer will be yes but I wonder if things like ;
    1) employment centres for low income workers might be away from public transport networks
    2) Shift work hours do not match when services are run or are too infrequent
    3) or even discounted fares may still be too high for some low-income earners

    may reduce the actual demand (inelasticity in demand).

    The other question is does anyone know if there are firm plans to increase the frequency of weekend rail services to 10 or 15 minutes frequency? I feel this will need to be done to partly to because free weekend train trips for children (presumably with Hop cards only) will increase the usage on weekends and for the upgraded service to the airport (Puhunui upgrade, etc) bu 2021. It would be nice to have this done before the services are packed and 2021 is going to be a big year for Auckland with various sporting events (which surely will increase the demand for services over the weekend).

    1. There won’t be any increase in frequency on the Southern and Eastern lines until the third main is built. I also doubt there will be any increases on the Western line until work at Mt Eden station is complete.

      Capacity shouldn’t be an issue as weekend trains are mostly 3-car so could be increased to 6-car.

      1. Off peak need better frequency rather than capacity.

        3-car consists on 10 min frequencies is objectively higher service than 6-car on 20, but the same capacity per hour.

        Just a shed load more usable and appealing for the customer (and yes more expensive to run).

        1. Agree, my comment was around there being sufficient capacity with the current frequency limitations.

          Time to get on with removing those limitations.

        2. Bit hard to increase train frequency when the current timetable requires staff to work permanent overtime, and drivers leave at more or less the same rate new ones are being trained.

        3. If only Veoila could offer some sort of employment benefits in order to retain and attract more drivers… Maybe some sort of financial benefit?

        1. I am not sure of your argument? Is being generous with other people’s money a good thing or a bad thing? If it is a good thing, as I infer fro your statement, then RONS are great! However, it think everyone here on this blog (myself included) thought they were awful. Surprised by you Heidi – I always picked you as a “bleeding-heart-liberal”.

        2. The implication is obvious, being generous with other people’s money isn’t inherently good or bad, the important distinction is to whom and how you are generous.

    1. “For too many people transport costs are a real barrier to everyday activities like going to the doctor, taking the kids to school,”

      Perhaps a national treasure, but the speech writer far less so. Do parents really take their kids to school on the bus or train? Someone can afford the $45 to visit a doctor, but cannot afford up to $3.45 each way on the bus?

      I am all for inducing more people to travel by PT and if this is a step to cheaper fares for all then great, but a genuine explanation would have been more credible.

      1. For young kids doctors are generally free. Although it might be only a few dollars each, multiplied up for several children (you don’t always have a choice about leaving the well ones home) then for some people that will count.

        We’ve taken our kids numerous times to dr (or back from hospital) by bus and train so it happens. We’re lucky we can walk to school but based on the number of parents that drive I’m guessing there are many who take PT too if they can’t drive or don’t have access to a car. School is probably the number one destination for taking kids, so kind of makes sense for a policy aimed at moving kids?

      2. “Do parents really take their kids to school on the bus or train?”

        Yes, obviously. Remember that fare assistance would include school buses or children catching the bus to school alone as well as parents and children on a bus together.

  2. The ferry’s being ,”commercial” and therefore much dearer is a bizarre situation but I see the roots of that oddball decision come back to Stephen Joyce back in 2011, and his motivation always appeared contrary to good PT.

    Auckland must have integrated public transport and I’m sure for Waiheke residents ending Fuller’s control can’t come a minute too soon.

  3. I don’t think they should worry about stigma – 900,000 people have them. Just get a system that will work and stick around long term.

    On the other hand, them who dehumanize anyone who gets welfare should be worried about Ligma…

  4. Presumably the children will have to have registered hop cards and if they misbehave they will be taken off them and not renewed. The last thing we new is gangs of young thugs roaming around on pur buses and trains.

    1. Royce, I see adults misbehave more than I see children misbehave. How about a bit of love for the young ones?

      1. Remember what it was like back in the bad old days of people riding the trains for free when they first introduced the HOP cards Heidi. We had all sort of criminals roaming the system many of them younger teens. We have had to employ copious quantities of security guards and transport officers and to get the situation under control. Now we could have the same situation on the buses as well and there only one driver too control it.

        1. Sadly I have found a side effect of making a public service free tends to make it the equivalent of a public toilet receives and we all know how revolting they are.
          But that does tend to be Adults more however.

          Royce is right, at the height of the fare evasion era on the trains saw all kinds of anti social arseholes riding them.

        2. Yet we haven’t put those resources into getting under control the red light runners, the drivers who don’t stop at pedestrian crossings, who drive using mobile phones, and who park all over the footpaths. Despite the fact that people are actually dying due to this negligence.

          Recently I had to step in and intervene when some Goldcard users took offence at the behaviour of a group of young teens on a bus. If they’d actually tried to understand the lingo and the different mannerisms and cultural practices, they would’ve seen these boys were really funny, quite respectful of each other, and actually having a conversation about career options. But they didn’t, they just let their prejudices allow them to assume that occasionally moving around the bus and calling out to each other with the occasion mild swear word was a threat.

          There’s an element to ageism in how we decide what to police, Royce.

        3. How the hell do on fare paying Goldcard users have any rights on PT? They should be thankful they even get a space!

        4. It’s not just ageism though is it.

          Royce and all waspmen – please check with BOFA regarding PT etiquette.

        5. Felix, no idea what BOFA is, but anyway.

          Fare paying passengers deserve rights above non payers, they’ve just paid full fare. It’s nothing to do with ageism although I have seen Goldcard holders throw their weight around such is their inbred entitlement expectations.

        6. I am all for free fares for children on weekend who are accompanied by an adult. This allows for family travel and will cut out many journeys which would otherwise be taken by car.
          Also reduced fares for workers who are earning less than the minimum wage and community service card holders would help fill up otherwise empty buses and free up people who can not really afford to own a car from poverty inducing car ownership.
          “NO warrant no registration no insurance no license no worries.

        7. Royce – that just reinforces dependency on parents, something PT has a better ability than car travel to reduce.

          My parents could afford it but it was one of the great freedoms of being a 12 or 13 year old being able to catch a train to visit friends or go to the cinema. I’m pretty sure my parents thought it was a great freedom not having to drive me too!

        8. Waspman, I’ll continue to give up my seat for elderly people even though they don’t pay. And I’ll continue to offer my seat to anyone else when if they’ve had a free fare or a reduced fare, including children. There have been times when I really needed a seat, and although they’re more frequent now, I remember occasional times as a child and a teenager. I don’t think it should have anything to do with who paid.

          AKLDUDE, if they want to give me a hug for it, that’s a bonus. 🙂

        9. The only ageism I see is here in the messages! Goodness, the Gold Card exists because the holders have earned it by completing a lifetime of work. Their transport is earned, not a freebie. We’re all going to turn 60 one day (those of us lucky to make it that far), so don’t knock it!

          The irony is the number of people here who think nothing of wanting their free cycleways paid for by motorists, and not only do they not thank them, they constantly hate on them.

        10. Come on Geoff, the Gold card only exists because Winston saw an opportunity to pay back Grey Power on us. It is ludicrous that the generation that got cradle to the grave everything only to snatch that away from those who happened to be born after and at the wrong time, in exchange for tax cuts, get a free ride on everyone else.

          Yes there are those who because of misfortune need it but so do plenty of others much younger and arguably in far more dire predicaments. No love for them though.

          That a Gold card holder can drive their late model car to the Ferry building and take a ride to Waiheke, just for jolly, on the house, whilst nurturing an investment portfolio is utter bullshit!

      2. Yeah give them a hug and sing kumbaya Heidi. Pull your head out of your ass, it is well known around the world that many youth like to push boundaries and don’t think of the consequences. Most grow out of it, others don’t and become problem adults. Best to nip it in the bud and when it comes to PT that doesn’t mean giving it away for free. If they have to pay towards it (even if it’s a reduced amount) then they are less likely to abuse it or cause problems for other passengers and/or property damage.

        1. If the thugs are riding now anyway then what it the problem with it being free? The reality is most under 16’s are largely dependent on their parents for money so whether they can afford to ride PT not whether they are a thug or not.

          This will give the majority of young people a lot more freedom, if we have a problem with a small minority of them then deal with it through enforcement.

    2. Any stats on this? I read somewhere that Gen Z are the most well behaved generation we’ve had in a long time, especially in terms of alcohol and recreational drug consumption. Anecdotally I see them more likely to be absorbed in their device rather than caring what is happening around them (quite sad really as I recall the fun I had actually talking to my friends on the way to work).

      Anyway, we could probably all do without your ageism!

      1. The stats from western nations are all quite similar. Young people are getting into less trouble, drinking less, taking less drugs, having less sex and just staying home on social media and have no idea how to interact with people in the real world. It’s a mixed bag really.

        As for gangs of young thugs, I think most the people who use those phrases are racist.

        As for reduced fares, that’s fine as long as its not “free”. Everyone should pay something, especially at peak times where there should be premium pricing to manage capacity. And even old people should pay, who already are all on pretty generous welfare at the expense of a shrinking base of tax payers. Many of whom sit on most the nations’ wealth.

        1. Ari those that have the Super Gold Card pay for all peak travel up till 9am and 3 – 6pm except for Auckland around the country , so don’t hound them and there are a hell of a lot that aren’t in the rich category

      2. That would be the majority Joe. There is however a large minority that are far worse than previous generations (in part due to socio-economic reasons, but also others who just don’t give a f#%k for one reason or another who think the world owes them a favour or are quite happy to play the victim card. The type that have never been disciplined who Heidi would love to hug until one of them clobs her one) :/

        1. I’m sure you’re going to produce evidence for your claims right?

          because actual research shows the exact opposite of what you are saying.

        2. It’s the majority that is far worse, thanks to boomer politics like yours, not ‘just don’t give a f#%ck’ lol.

          It’s really pathetic to believe all products of society should be purely pay-to-play and spout the idea that wealth=virtue.

          Here’s an idea, maybe attempted exclusion is creating more problems than it solves.

          Auckland is one of the most expensive cities worldwide for PT but obviously some of you still aren’t happy with the ‘class’ of riders.

          I’d say that’s your problem.

        3. Did you just assume my age and politics Felix?

          As for your remarks, I am all for reducing fares on PT. I think it’s a great idea to improve patronage. What I don’t think should happen however is free fares since that encourages disruptive people onboard who then cause paying customers to think twice about taking PT… would you rather ride on a bus with a bunch of punks yelling abuse, damaging/graffiti-ing the seats, walls and windows etc and in many cases physically threatened other passengers? Or would you take your car in safety because of them?
          Besides as Patrick etc have pointed out, making fares free just takes money away from improving services.

        4. You’re talking about 14 year olds and younger here.

          Can’t wait to grit it out in the dystopian Auckland wastelands once all these hordes of terrifying children you’re all so fucking scared of apparate out of thin air to set fire to all the buses because they’re free to ride.

          ‘Take your car in safety’ is funny. You are much more likely to meet a grisly end in there than anywhere else.

  5. Christine Fletcher voted against this? That’s interesting – I’d say one in four teens and tweens catching the bus to and from the climate strike didn’t have HOP cards… this will change that. Probably get primary school families using the bus too, so their parents will get HOP cards. I think it’ll shift the “never take PT” crowd into the “occasionally use” and the “occasionally use PT” crowd into the “use a few times a week” crowd. The ferry change will be popular.

    In short, voting against these popular measures that will increase the population’s comfort with PT isn’t what I’d do if campaigning as a mayoral candidate’s side-kick.

    But then campaigning with a bullbar driving man that most women don’t think is fit to be mayor was always going to be risky. It takes quite a lot for economically conservative, socially-minded women to not vote for a conservative woman with name recognition. I think Christine’s managed to overstep that mark.

    1. Does anyone know why Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee voted against it? It seems like Mike Lee votes against everything?

      1. I believe Lee voted against the CRL funding increase purely down to his belief that central government should stump up more. It was not that he disagreed with the reason for the extra spending and on that I agree.

        No idea why on this initiative for either however.

        1. Lee has said that he thinks AT is “at war with four-wheeled vehicles”. He has criticised AT for bringing in speed limits (in line with international guidelines and in response to unforgiveable DSI), saying it is an attempt to force motorists out of cars and onto public transport. And here’s his justification for that:

          “So what can we do to lower Auckland’s appalling road toll? First, we must get more cars off the roads by making Auckland’s public transport much more affordable, frequent and reliable.”

          Affordable?: He just voted against it.

          Reliability? He’s on record for saying “bus lanes might undermine support for public transport.”

          Frequent? That requires investment. But he voted against the recent package because “The trend we see here of unpredicted expenditure, increasing debt, a lower than predicted income is very troubling.”

          So despite his left-wing beginning, he’s become an irrelevancy to people wanting to invest in a better future for our people, too concerned about retaining the rights of the status quo without seeing the hypocrisy of supporting the most expensive of our transport modes – “four wheeled vehicles” – while claiming financial prudence.

          It’s great that he’s not standing again. We need younger blood looking to the future.

        2. Or in other words; Mike Lee advocates for a more sensible, feasible approach and other not-so-rational people are using small-minded nepotism and social manipulation to try and make him irrelevant.

        3. @Daniel Eyre, and getting kids who can’t drive onto PT is doing that is it? Riiiight…

        4. Correction, typo, should read: “He will likely get a lot of support if does”, not “We”.

        5. If he was going to run for mayor 2010 would have been the time to do it. He has had stuff all profile over the last nine years, most people will have forgotten who he is.

          Tamihere has got the ranting and raving, anti-change vote largely cornered.

        6. I actually wondered if Mike Lee had gone senile when I read his Herald post about speed limits.
          First he stated that almost all crashes were the result of idiots doing something stupid and a speed limit change wont help. Then he said that only about 15 per cent of fatal accidents occur above the speed limit – which implies that lowering the speed limit should have a real impact.
          Then he says he has no problem with reducing speeds on residential streets but AT want to reduce major traffic routes to a crawl – but isn’t AT only doing the city centre (very residential) and reducing some 100km -> 80km (hardly a crawl).
          He also says AT is happy slowing cars down, but encourages e-scooters onto our increasingly decrepit footpaths. But wouldn’t slowing cars down to 30km encourage scooters onto the roads not footpaths?
          I guess it is just good politics – pretending to support everything while actually supporting nothing.

        7. Yes, I had the same reaction to all those points, Jimbo. I knew little about the man until his ravings about safer speeds.

        8. I would much rather have Mike Lee as Mayor of Auckland than Phil Goff or John Tamihere.

          Mike Lee is no fool and has a considerable amount of knowledge from years of experience in Auckland local body politics. He has actually delivered to Aucklanders tangible benefits, particularly with rail and regional parks. He has appeal across both the left and right political spectrum and has got the attributes needed to be leader of Auckland which he demonstrated when he was Chairman of the former Auckland Regional Council. I have seen him in action – balls of steel and not a force to be reckoned with. This is what is needed to lead Auckland and actually get results, not just all teeth and talk like Goff who doesn’t listen to people.

        9. I agree with Robin.
          Mike Lee is a man for Auckland and getting what’s best for it. Despite the overreaction from some people at him not doing nor advocating what they want all the time; he is definitely pro-PT and getting the best services. I also think he has a more sensible approach to residential development and increasing population densities (AKA intensification.

          Phil Goff has never impressed me over his career, just a pillock and Labour party hack. Tamihere’s also more a politician than a leader.

        10. “I also think he has a more sensible approach to residential development and increasing population densities (AKA intensification.”

          Opposing intensification in wealthy suburbs isn’t sensible, it’s sycophantic.

        11. Is it that Lee’s opposed to intensification per se or that he’s opposed to extreme and sudden intensification?

        12. He is opposed to the intensification that was proposed which was neither extreme or sudden, so he is opposed to intensification “per se”.

        13. Well you haven’t provided any evidence so let’s do a quick google.

          “While Mike Lee supports population intensification in Auckland city, he has always been a keen proponent of heritage protection of Auckland’s historic townscapes. He was a leader in the fight to overturn the recent council up zoning and is opposed to demolition or removal of historic villas.”

          Well how’s that not fair enough? NZ has lost too much of it’s architectural heritage already. Look at what the philistine property developers are doing to the charming areas of Melbourne and Sydney. It’s it’s not like these areas weren’t built to be a lot less environmentally impacting, before automobile dependency.

          Here’s more:

          So it looks like he’s merely for the intensification to be more measured and careful.

          This entire dogmatic & intolerant “agree with me on everything or you’re against me” attitude and inability to be pragmatic and compromise really leads to nowhere good.

      2. Dare I say it, but why don’t you or Waspman or someone else simply just email or ring and ask Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee why they voted against it? Their contact details are on the Auckland Council website and as councillors they are quite approachable to ask a reasonable question such as this.

        With both these councillors having previously been on the board of Auckland Transport, it would be interesting to know their reasoning.

  6. This sounds great and as for stigma I can’t see how that would be an issue as the concession would be loaded onto the hop card and no one would know how much they were paying. I am glad there is extra funding for kids too. Hurrah.

    1. The beeps, Alex. I’ve seen elderly men blush when the slightly younger women they’re with get one beep, but they have two.

      1. This has to be the worst case of elder abuse I have seen from our Public Transport system. The outright embarrassment and resulting stigmatising of our gold card users by publicly identifying them as freeloaders at the most vulnerable time of tagging their golden AT hop card is utterly shameful. As if it’s not enough they are issued with a special brown pseudo-gold coloured hop card, which they can make effort to disguise in wallet or hold in cupped hand, then to confirm their freeloader status the hop reader will beep TWICE to inform all and sundry in the vicinity of the hop reader that WE HAVE ANOTHER OLDIE FREELOADER passing through. This warning provides the normal full fare paying passengers with time to adopt a disapproval stance and even make disparaging comment aimed at the golden oldie. Comments like ‘hurry up we haven’t all day to wait on you’’ or ‘make way for real paying passengers’ or ‘bloody oldies think their entitled to not just free travel but a seat on the bus/train too’ or ‘you should be on a seat in rest home, not a seat on train’
        My solution to this blatant discrimination is to have all hop cards beep twice at the reader. Yes, a revolutionary idea but we need this and we need it now. Even if it takes several $m to have the hop reader software updated by specialist coders or a top ranked investigative computer software analyst who can identify the beep generator software routine and design in the required modification to enable double beeping. Realising how complex computer software can be I’d tentatively suggest a two to five year development cycle to achieve this. It would be nice to set a goal for this task completion in time for the CRL opening. 🙂

      2. As a AT HOP Card holder with the Gold Card concession loaded on my card, I first thought that the two beeps were concession dependent.
        Subsequent observations led me to believe that it was remaining value dependent. Adding $20.00 to my card when I needed some non concession travel showed this to be the case.
        I believe that whenever the residual value on the card falls below $10.00 that the Two Beeps are an indication to the holder that it is time to Top Up. I have observed “slightly younger women” get two beeps.
        I blush no more. 🙂

        1. Huh. I don’t think I ever got two beeps.

          On the other hand I see a lot of young people getting two beeps, I was assuming they have a student concession.

  7. Stigma could be a problem.

    If the train is full of homeless, mental, and anti social people without sufficient guard or security, it would scares away the affluent users.

    Possibly AT need to have extra budget for extra security guards, more cleaning, and vandalism.

    The affluent user should also be offer some kind of counter incentive to balance out the social mix.

    1. While I probably wouldn’t have used the same language, I think you do have a point. Having used PT in San Francisco where it seemed to be the poor peoples transport mode, I can say it was bloody scary and I wouldn’t use it again.

      1. Maybe one solution to balance this stigma and social mix is to make the public transport free for people working in:
        -Social workers
        -Hospital carers
        -Council workers

        1. As soon as they work in a government approved organisation and work a minimum number of hours per week.

        2. I would say the world is not fair.

          There are always some people who deserve it but missed out and no system is perfect.

          Under your example, the carer has no income anyway, so she might be eligible for community service card.

        1. Hmm I’ve heard about this kind of conversation many times before.

          — I feel unsafe [on the bus / on the street / etc]
          — You racist!

          If people are actually getting harnessed on trains, and they are getting that kind of response, then things will go very sour.

        2. The fear that prejudiced embittered older people are about to drive nails into the hearts of young people with their disapproval (stemming from ignorance of the younger or other culture) is another fear that is scoffed at. But it’s very real.

          Luckily we also have lots of lovely people of all ages willing to give encouraging smiles, including some fantastic bus drivers.


          tell me again how kids are the problem and not a society which leaves them to suffer the unrestrained liberties of adults.

          I’m sure these guys paid the fare, like one paid to get discharged wo conviction for assault. But if we normalised 15yos taking the train and catered to that, this wouldn’t have happened.

      1. You appear to be contradicting yourself on a number of points here.
        You claim there is a significant problem with people riding for free and causing problems but then claim that making travel free is going to cause big problems. Which is it? The problems already exist or will happen in the future.

        You also mention that more costs were added by having Transport Officers, but completely neglect the cost of having a ticket inspector on every carriage.

        Additionally you say that Transport Officers are unable to effectively enforce payment of fares, yet claim that there was not an issue when there was an inspector in each carriage. This isn’t credible given the old ticket inspectors had even less power than the existing Transport Officers.

        1. Jizza: No contradictions in what I have said.

          The majority of problems are generally by the people in a certain age bracket who haven’t paid. The number of problem people have increased because of how easy it is to not pay since the HOP card and voluntary payment system was introduced. Enticing more people in this age bracket with free fares, will induce demand which wouldn’t otherwise there with a charge and will encourage far more problem people to ‘freely’ come onto the public transport system.

          Costs have increased with all the extra Transport Officers and Ticket Inspectors as opposed to the old train staffing arrangements where there was a Train Conductor and one or two Ticket Collectors with them on the busier trains. I have been told by a Train Conductor that the Ticket Inspectors and Transport Officers get paid more than what the previous Ticket Collectors (or whatever they were called) got paid. There is still a Train Conductor on every train occasionally along with the more expensive Ticket Inspectors and Transport Officers – and sometimes security guards and Maori Wardens. But the Train Conductors don’t check tickets and the Ticket Inspectors and Transport Officers don’t put problem people off who haven’t paid like the train staff used to in the past.

          More people ride for free without paying now than when everyone got checked for a ticket with the old train crews because in the past, because back then people knew as soon as you got on the train, you would be asked to pay and if you didn’t you would get put off the train by the train crews (I remember seeing this being done with the Train Drivers helping), so fewer problem people came onto the trains.

          You now have more people either not paying or cheating the system such as by not paying the actual distance travelled by quickly jumping out of the train and tagging on at a station in a zone closer to where they are going to and then quickly jumping back in. (The tag on posts should be at the entranceways to the station, not on the platforms to stop this).

          Changing the system with not having the Train Conductors checking for tickets or HOP cards has resulted in far more problems and expense with far more staff and security having to be employed and more damage to the trains having to be repaired – or not being repaired as seems to be the case going by a lot of the trains.

          The buses and ferries will now end up with all these problems and expense as well.

          Increasing patronage on public transport is one thing, but how this is done, such as with people not paying, and what is the cost? Safety of fare-paying people being compromised? Someone ultimately has to pay for all of this too, i.e. the people who do pay fares with higher fares and/or ratepayers.

        2. From what I have seen most the troublemakers have been over the age of 15 anyway. Additionally the young free riders will not be evading fares anyway as it will be legitimately free. One further point is there will be plenty of additional “good citizens” to keep any trouble makers in check.

        3. Robin – you have a very rose tinted view of the old system. There was plenty of fare evasion going on in the old system, for every time the train driver came and evicted someone there were plenty of times they didn’t. A common one was to buy a one stage ticket for a multi stage journey.

          There was also plenty of vandalism in the carriages that didn’t have an inspector present.

        4. The golden age. I don’t think I ever paid for more than one stage until Hop came out.

        5. Yes I agree – Robin you are looking back at when patronage was low (in comparison to today), & frequencies were terrible.
          I used to catch the train to Uni from Manurewa and would often either not get checked for ticket, or would be able to push back in the little bit of cardboard that the guard clipped off my multi ticket pass … this worked about 30-40% of the time for a free ride.
          I also believe the train managers wanted to not have the responsibility of checking tickets (and had it written into their contracts), so in a way they have made themselves into what appears to be the door closers that they currently are.
          I do agree with you that it seems insane that there are so many staff involved with trains now, drivers, train managers, transport officers & Security guards … It does seem a little excessive.

          Also agree with many other comments that in my experiences, it’s often 15+ ages brackets that cause the few problems I’ve noticed. So providing free fares to under 15 IMO won’t change much at all in terms of the ‘undesirables’ you seem so afraid and concerned about.

          Gating stations would seem to be the logical thing for you to advocate for?

      2. Yeah, and by the same token allowing people to travel on roads for free encourages bad behaviour, especially those from the largely white, socioeconomic group that spends heavily on anti social late model SUVs. They drive at excessive speed, tailgate and generally use the mass of their vehicle to intimidate. Things have definitely gone down hill since the withdrawal Traffic Officers in their distinctive black and white cars.
        I feel a lot safer on a bus or on the train, then on an Auckland motorway.

        1. +1 And as for giving them all that parking space for free, so they now take the footpaths as well…

        2. I agree the Government / Police should bring back the traffic cops. They could also have a new task of policing public transport as well, which would be more effective than the current AT-employed Transport Officers, Transdev-employed Ticket Inspectors and Amourguard employed-security guards.

        3. Electric vehicles or any hybrid running solely on electricty is driving for free. Any vehicle on the road is receiving a massive taxpayer subsidy.

        4. Electric vehicle drivers are ratepayers too.

          Massive subsidy my arse. And nowhere near the subsidy PT users receive.

        5. Tony, I know you have an aversion to the word subsidy linked to driving, but there are many externalities associated with driving, which mean that its costs are greater than the benefits. On the other hand, the benefits associated with providing public transport outweigh the costs.

          Evidence of the above is a common theme throughout the posts on this site. I believe you just don’t like to include public health and social health costs and benefits; is that right?

          Could you please provide evidence for your repeated assertion that driving is not subsidised, in order to comply with user guideline 2 (ii)?

        6. Heidi, the benefits of driving far outweigh the costs. You may think otherwise. That’s ok big deal.
          What it tells me though is that subsidies and level of subsidy is simply a matter of opinion based on a bunch of assumptions from people with different bias.

          And you’re not asking sailor boy for evidence for the ‘massive ‘ subsidy he claims so why ask me?

          And I think you’re guidelines page is down.

        7. The simple fact that 50% of Auckland Transport’s road maintenance, renewals and capital development budget comes from rates and not user charges shows that driving very much is subsidised.

          Just to be clear, rates are a tax on real estate value, which are paid whether you drive or not, or regardless of how much or how often you drive.

          I’m all for subsidy free roads, we can double petrol taxes and hypothecate the funding (and expenditure) so no more rates money spent on repaving roads.

        8. People pay rates with the expectation that much of it used to maintain the roads they drive on. That’s not a subsidy it a payment for service.

          You can lower rates and remove that from rates and increase fuel taxes if we want but it makes little difference.

        9. Tony, that is nonsense. Rates are a general property tax unrelated to how much any ratepayer drives. 25% of households in the Waitemata LB area in 2013 have no car owner resident.

          Roads are provided in NZ on an pretty much purely socialist model; we are all taxed, the money goes into big centralised buckets and the spending is centrally planned. Public Transport fares and the vanishingly tiny number not toll roads are the only properly capitalist user-pays parts of the system…

          Small government types that love how roads and driving are funded are among the most confused souls on the planet. Actually they love socialism (when it suits them cf also police, armed forces etc…)

        10. I don’t think many people pay rates with an expectation it is spent on roads. In my experience nobody realises rates are spent on roads at all and thinks that petrol taxes cover it all already. My friends think their rates is all spent on playgrounds and lavish mayoral parties.

          There would be one significant difference if we lowered rates and shifted the road subsidy to fuel tax/RUC: this would mean the amount people pay for roading is much more closely related to how much each person actually uses the roads. Not only is this fairer for property owners and renters who many not drive much (especially for the 12% of Auckland households that don’t have access to a car at all), it would mean that plans to build or widen roads would have to be contestable against the budget for maintaining and renewing existing ones. Or in other words, people might think differently about how much they drive and how much they demand new infrastructure if they have to pay for it at the pump next time they fill up.

          It’s a classic soviet bakehouse situation.

        11. It’s not nonsense paddy. It’s how it works. Even those who don’t drive or don’t own cars even. They still receive a benefit from the roads. It’s a network remember?
          Don’t know your socialism tangent’s for.

          I find most people understand that a lot of road maintenance is payed for out of rates. It’s why they complain to the council about the potholes and other various states of disrepair. They seem more surprised when AT tell them they can’t repair state highways.

          Regardless road provision is part of our rates. You can’t claim it all as a subsidy.

        12. Tony what is nonsense is that this isn’t a ‘subsidy’. Although I agree it is a poor word. The better word is transfer. Society is full of transfers, and the driving system is particularly at the end of many of them. The idea that driving is not supported by transfers from other groups and is entirely self funding is a fantasy probably caused by the experience of the large sums that drivers DO pay directly, like purchase, insurance, maintenance, fuel, and the hugely resented fuel tax. A tax that does go someway to funding this system…. It’s not a perfect system by any means, driving has enormous indirect burdens it places on society that it doesn’t get close to covering… it’s awkward, but it functions, for now…

        13. Europe’s Europe. It’s irrelevant.
          And everyone has their inbuilt biases so there’s no trusting the result anyway. If someone else wrote it there be a different number.

          Look, there are subsidies everywhere. Everyone is subsidising something. The whole thing subsidises itself. Just because you don’t like a particular one doesn’t make it right or wrong or fair or unfair.

          Still no evidence of ‘massive’ subsidies in our network. Are you going to ask sailor boy?

        14. Gobbledegook, Tony.

          “Europe’s Europe. It’s irrelevant,” if its research findings are unappealing.
          “And everyone has their inbuilt biases so there’s no trusting the result anyway” if you don’t like them.
          “Look, there are subsidies everywhere. Everyone is subsidising something,” which is a useful position to take if you don’t want to hear how your behaviour is putting externalities on others.

          Looking at the evidence critically is the best anyone can do. What you’ve done here is dismiss the evidence out of hand because it doesn’t suit your narrative. But provided zero evidence to back up your claims. You have breached the user guidelines:

          2ii. Repeated statements without supporting evidence

          So don’t expect any of your comments to be retained.

        15. “Still no evidence of ‘massive’ subsidies in our network. Are you going to ask sailor boy?”

          Heidi provided some evidence of the massive subsidies from her vast resevoir of knowledge on the subject, but here is my evidence:

          Regardlees, Heidi isn’t asking me for evidence because those of us who pay rates are astutely aware of the subsidy that motorists receive. It has been covered ad nauseum on this blog. You are making an extraordinary claim, you need extraordinary evidence.

      3. Jan 2019
        Mayor Phil Goff said with an increase in road congestion, Auckland Council was focused on moves that would encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

        “One aspect of that is increasing public confidence around safety on trains and buses and curbing anti-social behaviour that causes people to feel insecure if using public transport,” Goff said.

        “Auckland Transport believes that the ability to evade fares increased joy-riding by those most likely to engage in anti-social behaviour.”

        I see the difference between then then and now – votes.

    2. Would you like it if only rich people can sit at the front of the bus? and everybody else sits at the back?

      1. Imagine all this energy… put into exposing white collar crime, or driving crime, and preventing those things…

      2. Question is, who gets the top deck of the double deckers, rich or poor? On one hand I’d have to walk up the steps, but on the other hand I get nicer views!

      3. If you have any constructive suggestions about curbing anti-social behaviour/vandalism on the trains, please feel free to outline them. Otherwise you sound like someone who very rarely/never uses public transport opining from the comfort of an armchair with a Chardonnay in close proximity.

        1. Zippa: I am a regular user of the train service and have travelled on the trains for many years and know what I am talking about.

          I am just saying it like it is, from what I have seen and experienced and from what other people who travel on the trains have told me, along with what the train staff have told me when I have talked to them. (The train staff used to be a lot more friendly and talkative to us regulars in years gone by).

          I have already stated a solution to the main problem relating to the providing of free travel to under 15s – to instead have a $1 fare anywhere on Auckland’s public transport system for children 12 and under. To also have a new student fare which includes tertiary students for teenagers aged 13 and above.

          Also, get rid of the security guards and Transport Officers, and instead have a Maori Warden on the trains with the Train Conductors. Have the Train Conductors check that people have tickets or HOP cards on the trains (have two Conductors on 6 car trains). The Transport Officers should be replaced with new Transport Police or traffic cops like the old Ministry of Transport Officers, which could cover both the roads and public transport with officers which have proper power and authority needed to enforce and be effective.

        2. How would the train conductor effectively check tickets, with one of them for three carriages? It would be pretty easy to avoid detection in this scenario, especially if you argued the case until they had no choice but go and open the doors because it was the next stop.

        3. Alternative to $1, is all passengers need to tag on and off regardless it is free or not.

          If some troublemakers got caught, their hop card get banned.

          So they can’t use any gated station.

          If don’t use a hop card to tag and get caught they are immediately removed from the train.

          If a repeated offender keep doing this, they will be transfer to police.

          I think ideally we should have transport police that has power to arrest if they do not provide correct personal details ,uncooperative or violence.

        4. How about passive surveillance via getting more people onto them through initiatives like this.

          The dissonance that ‘riding while young’ is antisocial but policing who gets to participate in PUBLIC transport isn’t….

          Armchairs and wine are a lot cheaper than supporting the prison industrial complex fed by subjugating young poor people.

    3. If the train is full of homeless, mental and anti social people then AT could just buy more AM sets with the money saved in providing homes for the homeless, mental hospitals and centres for the mental and save on prisons and detention facilities for the anti social.
      That solves some big social problems for the price of a few more train sets. Maybe have special trains for them where doors only open occasionally to let people in and they keep moving on a long distance circular pattern so they continually move out of sight hence out of mind.
      Maybe mayor Phil, Jag and other suggesters for free fares have this in mind the whole time. Cunning.

  8. I retired at 65, 6 years ago, and have used the train system 4 or 5 days a week. I
    have never had any abuse or sour comments directed at me. It may help though
    that I am off the trains by 3 pm, and I never travel at night.

    1. thank-you… at last a normal older person comments. So hard not to generalise about a group if we only hear from the angry fringe; the older rail-bore gang give their generation a bad name with these pile-ons of mean-spirited paranoia at the wiff of some other group getting the slightest hand up they are used to…

      I find our trains to be a place of remarkable civility and diversity, and yes I often head south, and have used PT all over the world, there’s very little intimidation here… If you want a class system when you move join the Koru club and fly…

      It is my conscious intention to help shape Auckland’s PT networks as de-colonised space; ie of equal access to all, classless, with a consistently high standard of vehicle and service, open and owned by everyone. The Rapid Transit network is getting there, I reckon, and is therefore something we can all be proud of….

      1. The equal-access transport network goal is so important.

        We do have lots of older progressive commenters here, Patrick.

        1. Generally agree – but it is important to remember equal access requires everyone to feel safe, otherwise it is just a different group that effectively gets excluded.

          If there has to be a group that is excluded it is those doing the intimidating, not those being intimidated.

        2. ‘Bloody kids these days ‘ said every generation ever.

          Ps Koru rules. Free beer and you don’t have to sit in the smelly duty free hall.

        1. From a small group of troublemakers, some but certainly not all who will be under the age of 16.

          Solution – target the small group of troublemakers.

        2. And try to fix whatever’s failed them. There’s no pretense that the policies and economics of the last few decades hasn’t created poverty and social inequity.

          If PT fares are too high, and a child’s older siblings are ripping the system off, that child will get drawn into doing it with them, even if discipline at home is strong. So they’ll get to experience the disapproval / enforcement discipline / rule of the law, and feel there’s very little space made for them in society.

          Whereas if PT fares were affordable or free, children in families with little means don’t need to step over that boundary just to have transport and access to their city, and can stay the right side of the law, feeling like society’s doing something for them.

          That’s a much healthier situation.

          How much problem behaviour stems from feeling like the system is against them? And remember we know we have fares that are high internationally, we know we have sprawl, so distances for poor people especially are very long, we know we have a housing crisis.

          I’d imagine quite a lot.

        3. Heidi: I agree the economic policies and social decline is a root cause behind the problem people on the trains. This all started with the policies of the Labour Government in 1984 and has been continued by successive governments, both National and Labour since then.

          But a lot of issues to do with the trains mentioned have come from the decision making of AT. This organisation has a lot to answer for and is not answerable to the public or politicians like it should be, particularly with being the biggest recipient of ratepayer funding and responsible for providing critical important services which Aucklanders, and to an extent the country, needs to function.

        4. Interesting to note who the Minister of Housing and Employment was in the Labour Government in the 1980s and look at what he had to say at the time, skip through to 40:08:

          This is the period in which New Zealand’s living standards and the prospects for many people took a huge hit and went into decline leading to the big problems we have today.

          The entire documentary is interesting to watch, as are two other related documentaries “Someone else’s country”:

          And “Revolution”:

          So be careful of who you vote for, know their history.

      2. Well AT and Transdev are not providing a high standard of service with the state in which they have allowed the new electric trains get into all scratched into with tagging, dirty stained smelly worn seats. Along with how unsafe the trains are at times now with the number of intimidating undesirables now travelling on the trains, which will only get worse with enticing more on with free travel for under 15s.

        1. If you think our trains are in a bad state you seriously need to travel overseas.

        2. You can’t blame AT or Tranz Dev for scratchings on almost every surface. There’s no way they could afford to replace every scratched window/panel just to have it etched again. The Transport Officers are good, having them in groups is far more effective than the single ticket collector of old when dealing with ‘issues’. The problem is they’re still hamstrung by this idea that NZ is some type of utopia where the problems common on overseas pt systems don’t happen here. They need to have the power to physically detain/remove troublemakers as in the Australian commuter rail networks.
          For example, Perth transit officers.

        3. +1
          I have seen the AT transit officers in action and in serious cases all they can do is phone the police. They do not appear to be capable of detaining or arresting anyone.
          I like the way they organise into squad of 6 to 8 officers and saturate ticket checking of every passenger. For several years the western line hosted groups of non paying gangs from Ranui to Henderson and Glen Eden. The gating of Henderson removed many undesirables although Ranui to Glen Eden became more popular as neither have gates. I have seen groups on train from Ranui keep lookout coming into Henderson and alight there if they see transit officers readying to board train. They then don’t leave Henderson station but just wait on a train that does not have transit officers either on board or waiting to board. Then they travel to Glen Eden and complete their free trip. I have never seen transit officers waiting to board a train at Sunnyvale.
          The only way I can imagine to prevent this is gates especially at Glen Eden.

  9. AT should make public transport cheaper for students.
    If kids can use the bus in the mornings, it means there will be less parents driving their kids to school in the cars. This would free up the roads. I suggest a flat rate of $1 per trip regardless of distance for anyone in school uniform from 7am to 9am.

    Next, make it cheaper for university students. Right now it costs me $26 a week to get to and from uni, and I live in a central suburb. Imagine what it costs for those living further out. Many of my friends do not bother to come into uni due to the high cost and long commute times (as no bus lanes). This has had a detrimental impact on mental health – many are isolated from their friends and peers as they do not see them. It would be such an easy way to improve mental health in our youth.

    1. Mike, so why exactly would it be desirable to have kids travelling all over Auckland to go to school?
      Most kids will only pay $1.05 currently ( 1 zone) so I am not sure what problem you are trying to fix.

      1. They should just make it a $1 fare for all kids regardless of how many zones all the time, as someone else suggested. Having a flat $1 fare for kids would be simpler and would certainly make using public transport more attractive, which in turn if this helps more kids to use public transport to get to school, this will really help reduce congestion during the school run periods. We all know how much better the roads flow during school holidays.

    2. Yes, Mike, I see that’s happening with the university students. I think youth who are not in training or studying should also have any discount – they are often the ones who need to reengage often after a difficult start.

      I don’t agree with “anyone in uniform”. Firstly, plenty of children don’t wear uniform. But secondly, very few children don’t live within walking distance of their school. While cheaper or free fares for all children to get to all activities is something I’d support – including for hobbies, fun and to change parental households – it’s very important that there is no priority given to bus travel at school times. That would typically be prioritising funding for the typically richer kids who go out of zone. We can target better than using that regressive approach.

  10. Does anyone know what the story is with the number of failures with the trains lately due to ‘power outages’?:

    Seems to be happening a bit affecting a few trains at different locations around Auckland.

    I heard a Train Manager telling someone else on a train I was on one morning when this happened that there has been trains arcing out and one caught fire at Papakura. Scary stuff. Is it the trains which are at fault or the power supply?

  11. Really glad to see that the child fares will be reduced!

    For the community services card, this needs to be funded the same way that Gold Cards are funded. Basically you load a HOP card with a community services concession, then you get whatever the discount is. It really needs to be funded out of a social care pot, not a public transport pot. This way, councils get the funding that they need to run services *and* people who need it get the financial support that they need. Growing ridership will actually allow increased services.

  12. Wouldn’t you get better bang for the buck by changing the Zone size?
    Can’t see that youth are discouraged from taking PT as it is. There is already Child an Teritary Fares.
    Indeed if you didn’t have a drivers license it’s probably the main way of getting around independantly.
    Seems like a way of spraying money they don’t have around, and poorly targeted at that.

  13. Regardless of whether you are high, medium or low income, the prices of PT are way too high. They need to be 30% lower across the board.
    The govt needs to stop being stingy, and SPEND. There are multiple dividends from cheaper (and therefore more used) PT, from reduced emissions, to a more efficient transport network leading to improved productivity. And so on.

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