As expected, Auckland Transport have announced public transport fares are set to rise.
Auckland Transport (AT) has completed its annual review of public transport fares which takes effect from 9 February 2020.
The outcome builds upon the direction given by Auckland Council’s Governing Body in May 2019, which approved:
- free weekend public transport for five to 15 year olds (proposed by Mayor Phil Goff in his 2019/2020 budget)
- the integration of fares for ferry trips into the bus and train network making it cheaper for ferry customers to use multi-mode journeys
- a small general fare increase to contribute to additional costs resulting from both enhanced services as a result of increased patronage and inflationary cost pressures.
As a result of the latest review, free public transport for 5 to 15-year-olds over weekends will continue and there will be no changes for those travelling longer distances (5, 6, 7 and 8 zone trips). Ferry fare integration will start early this year.
There will be small increases to other fares to take account of operating cost increases (including inflation and the cost of diesel) which are outside of AT’s control, and the costs of providing more services.
Auckland Transport’s Executive General Manager Integrated Networks, Mark Lambert, says more than half of all fares have been kept at current levels, with others increasing by between 3 and 10 cents per passenger trip, to continue to support the exceptional growth in use of public transport in Auckland.
“Operating costs increasing through inflationary pressures on, for example, diesel, and the introduction of many new bus services, unfortunately can’t be completely absorbed, so we have had to introduce some slight fare increases,” says Mr Lambert.
“The fare changes do not cover the full cost of inflation with the balance covered by service efficiencies and AT’s own cost reductions, and funding increases from Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency.”
He says the changes have been kept at the lowest possible level so that public transport continues to remain a cheap and accessible option for Aucklanders.
“The cost of short trips on buses and trains in Auckland is still much cheaper than a number of Australian cities.”
Most changes are relatively small at 5 to 10 cents but that quickly adds up and means a daily commuter could end up paying approximately $25-50 more per year. This is particularly egregious at a time when we need to get as many people as we can out of cars and on to public transport as one of the tools to help address climate change.
As for saying that more than half of fares are unchanged, while that may be technically correct it’s a more than a bit disingenuous as many of them will be fares that very few people use. For example how many people have travelled the maximum 9-zones with HOP, which would require travelling from Franklin to Warkworth. As I understand it the 2-zone fares the most widely used followed by 1-zone and then 3-zone and all of these are seeing increases.
The simplified fare structure above was introduced in mid-2016 so I thought I would compare how prices have changed since then.
For the sake of time I’ve only included adult HOP fares – given 90% of trips are made using HOP. It also doesn’t show all HOP zones as the zones, only the most key ones and ferry fares. As you can see, the inner harbour (City Centre – Bayswater; Birkenhead; Northcote Point; Devonport; Stanley Bay), 2-zone and 4-zone fares have increased the most at over 40c over the 3.5 years since the zone structure was introduced. At the same time, trips from the mid harbour (City Centre – Half Moon Bay; West Harbour; Beach Haven; Hobsonville Point) are lower than at that time.
Of course some of you may notice one key adult fare missing from that list – Waiheke fares. Here’s a version with them included and as the song goes, “One of these things is not like the others…..”
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect to this is it comes not long after AT slashed a bunch of services so it’s now costing us more to get less service.
One aspect I think would be good for AT was if they were to provide more information about the cost pressures behind their decision. Stuff’s Todd Niall reports that the increase will cover $3.4 million out of a total cost increase of $15 million. But it’s not clear just how that $15 million is made up, for example it’s not clear how much it is related to ATs obsession with expensive peak buses.
Overall the increases are not surprising but are disappointing.