In order for Auckland to achieve its goals of reducing emissions, improving liveability and mobility we are going to require significant mode shift away from driving. Some of that shift will come from people travelling less, some from a shift to active modes but the lion’s share will need to come from more people using public transport. Auckland’s Climate Plan calls for PT to account for about 35% of trips by 2050, up from about 7.8% pre-pandemic and will be lower than that now.

The biggest factors in getting people to use public transport are frequency reliability and speed. Big infrastructure projects like the CRL, Light Rail and busways will also play a big part in making public transport faster, more effective and attractive while other interventions like road pricing will provide an additional push factor to get people out of their cars.

However, another aspect that is often raised in relation to getting more people on to public transport is how much it costs. The discussion of fares most commonly comes up around February every year when Auckland Transport announces their now annual changes.

So with this post, I thought I’d look at how our fares compare.

Our Fare History

To start with let’s look at how our fares have changed.

Auckland’s current fare system was introduced in August 2016 and simplified our fare structure as well as improving it by charging for your journey instead of by how many buses or trains it took you to make that journey – making transfers between buses and trains free. More recently ferries have been integrated though there is an additional charge for the ferry journey itself.

When the system was introduced, even ignoring transfers, most people saw their PT trips become cheaper which was great. Since then we’ve had fare changes each year around February.

The two graphs below show how much fares have changed over the last five years, one in dollar terms and one as a percentage. I should also note that these are adult fares only, they are also the discounted fare as achieved with a HOP card

  • City Link: $0.50 -> $0.60
  • 1 Zone: $1.80 -> $2.20
  • 2 Zones: $3.10 -> $3.90
  • 3 Zones: $4.90 -> $5.40
  • 4 Zones: $6.00 -> $6.80
  • 5 Zones: $7.50 -> $8.00

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My understanding is that 2-zone trips make up the largest proportion of PT trips in Auckland, which is not surprising given that includes everyone travelling to the city from the Isthmus and lower North Shore. These graphs show they’re also the group that have seen the largest increase in fares. For someone just using PT for commuting to and from work this change over the last five years represents them now having to spend an extra $400 annually.

A Longer History

Prior to integrated fares, how much you paid was based on how many stages you travelled on each individual service. There were more stages than we now have as zones and the exact location of stage boundaries varied a bit depending on which route you were on but some of the boundaries are comparable with the current system. Based on that I’ve estimated how much you’d pay for a trip from the city centre to various parts of the region and below is about how far you could get for each stage:

  • City Centre: A special fare for trips wholly within the city centre – this separate from the special InnerLink fare.
  • 1 Stage: Kingsland / Newmarket / Orakei / Harbour Bridge
  • 2 Stages: Mt Albert / Mt Roskill / Ellerslie / Glen Innes / Akoranga
  • 3 Stages: New Lynn / Onehunga/ Otahuhu / Constellation Dr
  • 4 Stages: Henderson / Papatoetoe / Albany
  • 5 Stages: Swanson / Manurewa
  • 6 Stages: Papakura
  • 7 Stages: Silverdale

One thing you can clearly see is that when Auckland Transport simplified the fare structure they effectively collapsed every second zone so if you were previously a 3, 5 or 7 stage fare away you ended up much better off. The other big beneficiaries are those making crosstown trips that don’t require a transfer in the city, including trips like those say New Lynn to Ellerslie or Pt Chev to Sylvia Park which became a 1 zone fare.

Another interesting way to look at this is adjusting those fares for inflation. It suggests that while fares have increased, in many cases they’re actually lower lower than they used to be, especially for longer distance trips.

What about Families

Individual fares are useful to look at but if we’re to achieve the levels of change needed, we need public transport to be accessible and affordable for a much wider range of trips, and right now it’s simply not. For example even with adults now getting an extra 10% discount if travelling on weekends or off-peak and children being free on weekends, a return family trip to the city on a weekend will set them back $14, $19.50 or $24.50 for a 2, 3 or 4 zone trip respectively.

Meanwhile the maximum you’ll pay on a weekend in the downtown carpark is just $10.

Trips to other parts of the region will often be both cheaper and have fewer public transport options. Yet they’re just some of the trips we’ll need to shift.

An International Comparison

I also thought it would be interesting to have a bit of an international comparison. It seems no two cities are the same when it comes fare structures and there are so many cities to choose from so to make a comparison I’ve looked a range of comparator cities in similar ‘new world’, car dominant countries.

To make the comparison I’ve looked at how much it would cost to travel certain distances from the city centre (1km, 2km, 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km, 25km, 30km, 35km). In all cases I’ve used the equivalent discounted fare for using a card like HOP and I’ve converted the costs to New Zealand dollars.

What we can see from this is that at compared to these other cities, Auckland fares are not terrible but where things get expensive is for trips over 10km – or about once you’re out of the 2-zone area.

Passes and caps

If we really want to get people out of their cars using fares, perhaps the best thing we could do is to make pass and/or fare cap offerings better. Passes/caps are great because while you might get one to cover your regular commute, having one means you’re more likely to use PT for other trips, such as going out on the weekend. Personally I know that when I’ve had passes in the past it has changed how I think about my travel as additional trips are essentially free and the more I use it the more value I’m getting from the pass.

Yet AT’s strategy over recent years has been to reduce pass options and make them more expensive in order to push people onto the single HOP fares above. I suspect this is because the driving force for AT has been increasing revenue rather than maximising ridership. The current bus/train monthly pass costs $215 and so is only really suitable for people who travel by PT a lot and/or do so long distances. For example, for those making the most common 2-zone trip, they’d need to make 55 journeys a month, or nearly two a day including weekends in order to justify the cost.

Not all cities offer passes or fare caps but perhaps one of the best examples is Vienna. As well as weekly and monthly passes, they also have an annual pass that costs just €365 (NZ$609) and allows unlimited travel on almost all public transport in the city for a year.  The whole point is to help make public transport the first choice for people travelling. The annual pass can also be bought by employers for employees and they can then claim the tax back on them.

To put the cost in perspective, a year of monthly passes in Auckland will set you back nearly $2600, just over four times as much.

Annual passes exist in other European cities too but often costing twice as much (or more) as Vienna’s does.

Free PT

Because I know it will be mentioned, another option is to remove fares altogether. We’ve talked about this a few times before, including earlier this year so I won’t cover it again but it isn’t the panacea some suggest, with oversees examples showing no impact on getting drivers out of their cars but instead seeing mode shift from people walking and cycling.

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81 comments

  1. Fare policy should clearly be to push the monthly pass down in cost so that it becomes a default purchase and is considered good value for work trips only. Then weekend trips can be seen as free. Maybe children should be free on weekends with adults with monthly passes?

    The pass should really be $150 max

    1. I would like children’s fare policy to be based around improving children’s independent mobility. That means not linking it to adult companions.

      I agree about the monthly pass.

      But getting the price of the annual pass down to Vienna’s level would be a real game-changer, as it would get far more people seriously considering selling a car or not buying one in the first place.

    2. I don’t see the need for passes. Why not make weekends free for everyone? Why restrict it to those that are already being massively subsidised in their work commute?

      1. And so Jimbo, maybe you need to take a look at the success that Vienna and other European cities have achieved using the pricing models that they have. Vienna sells over 800k passes each year to its population of 1.8 million. They achieve almost 10x the ridership that Auckland achieves. It is a model that seems to be embraced by both left and right wing politicians. (That’s what our friends there say.)
        I think given the abysmal state of Auckland’s public transport ridership we need to embrace proven ideas.

        1. If Auckland had a PT system like Vienna, ridership would be many times what it is currently with same fare structure in use now.

        2. Is it the pricing model or just the higher level of subsidy? Vienna’s annual pass costs one euro a day. If they had instead made it say one euro per trip at peak and free off peak, would that have worked as well? I suspect so.
          I think an annual pass generally incentivises the wrong people. Its an all or nothing commitment, which is fine if you do already use PT, but not very good if you just want to try it out or if you don’t need it for commute but do want it for weekends etc.

  2. Free fares – or at least very cheap ones – for the under-25’s would still have a place in a strong modeshift policy. During the years when people learn to drive, leave school, look for jobs and try to get involved in things, go flatting, take the first job, etc, is when they are forming habits.

    Putting fares up to adult levels just as they are getting their drivers’ licenses is really quite silly.

  3. Why are we talking ABOUT monthly passes it should be weekly. It makes me want to swear as people on here show there middle to upper class status. The next commenter that mentions monthly may get a mouthful. Have they not heard of weekly pay and being broke the day after pay or benefit day.

    1. Agree Royce. Monthly passes are an outdated concept really.
      With PT being a highly subsidised commodity, I don’t see how it is “fare” to give bulk discounts anyway. If anything we should be giving cheap fares to the people who use it the least not the most.

        1. 50% isn’t highly subsidised?
          I’m not complaining about the subsidy, I think they should increase the subsidy level. But I do think it needs to be applied fairly, and I don’t see how bulk discounts and big upfront payments are a fair model.

    2. It would be nice to see weekly, monthly and yearly passes. That gives people the most flexibility in terms of buying a pass to suit their own circumstances.
      When I started commuting by train a number of years ago in the UK I first did occasional trips, then tried the weekly pass a few times. When that proved successful I bit the bullet in terms of upfront cost and bought a monthly pass, reverting to weekly if I had leave in a month. Never bought a yearly pass, just too much money up front.

    3. Agree with the sentiment but maybe the solution is not the duration of the pass but how it can be paid for. Even a weekly pass is beyond the reach of many, lets face it so is a HOP card.

    4. Annual and monthly passes can be successful from an equity point of view. There are many ways to make them commonly available to people who have insufficient income to budget more than week to week.

      An upfront cost of a car is far higher than the upfront cost of an annual pass. Financing people into cars is sometimes left to the sharks, but financing people into annual passes can easily be a government or council endeavour.

      The point is that public transport is usually much cheaper than car ownership and driving, which is only to rise, and packaging the public transport costs it into an annual pass is a great way to make it apparent exactly what they will be. Compared to a car, there are very few hidden costs, if any.

      1. Why do all that instead of just making base fares lower? Why does PT have to be something special where you pay per year compared to say food or power where you pay by how much you use it?

    5. Surely in the age of HOP cards the weekly, monthly and annual passes don’t need to paid for up front? They could simply be in the form of a cap, use the card enough and it stops costing any more for the rest of the week, month or year?

      1. We could do, but why? Why do commuters get free trips when non-commuters don’t? It’s not like a private company where you reward your biggest users, in this case the biggest users are not creating profit, they don’t really deserve special treatment.

        1. You give your biggest users a discount to get “buy in.” The huge volume of people who use public transport contribute much more to its success than a person who might choose to use it once a week when their partner has the car. The rationale for rewarding such behaviour is suspect.
          Vienna is an example of regular users holding public transport together. “Vienna in Figures” shows ridership down by 40%, but the number of annual passes to be up.
          There shouldn’t be any surprises there though. The fitness industry is a classic example of building a financial base on well priced weekly/monthly/subscriptions.

    6. I’d be looking for weekly caps, once you get to a point where you’ve spent $X, it’s then free or significantly less expensive.

      Yes there are equity issues as it favours those who commute, but if we’re going to have to start somewhere, should we not be extending what we’ve already got rather than trying to do too much with the first intervention.

    7. Nothing wrong with Monthly passes Royce. It simplifies the process and makes it more affordable. For the people that are doing it tough then perhaps there could be some kind of weekly payment plan for them.
      End of the day a monthly pass at around $150 is going to cost less than many spend each week on PT anyway!

  4. In London, my company offered to buy us an annual pass and we paid them back out of our salaries. It helped manage the upfront cost and the human benefits were huge. I was not in a well paid job but at least I could always go visit friends, parents and sister and enjoy all the free and cheap stuff in the city so I had a great time. The human benefit of connections is huge and better connectivity is what young people consistently ask for and where we consistently fail them. Normalising employer provision of passes and a subsidised or free pass for University students would be terrific.

    1. Yes, employer provision is a great concept.

      I believe all under 25’s should get the subsidised or free pass, not just Tertiary Students. Those not in training are the ones most in need of the human benefits of connections and the opportunities that mobility around their city can give.

    2. I also had a pretty lowly paid job in London, and the 99GBP per month for my zone 2 pass did hurt every time I paid it. But it was also about my 3rd highest priority after rent and bills because it opened up vast swathes of the city to me. My employers didn’t offer any pay back scheme but I would have jumped at it if they had.

        1. I’m not sure. For me, it was pay it once per month then I don’t have to think about it or budget for it again for the rest of that month. I also didn’t have any dependents at the time nor any real surprises in my budget (car breakdown, boiler repair etc) so it all worked well for me at the time.
          I take the point being made in this thread about financially constrained people struggling with monthly over weekly, that’s just not something I can speak to from my own experience.

  5. PT pricing in Auckland is silly. A monthly pass works to less than $10 per work day, which for three zone plus daily commuters is great value for my 4 zone daily commute. But to access this you need to be invested into using PT all the time and pretty daily commuting.

    Just doing a one 3 zone return trip will cost more than a monthly passes daily cost, feels out to me.

    1. Jak, I think that you have encapsulated well one of the aims of monthly/yearly passes. It is to have people use public transport all, or at least most of the time. Vienna’s system has led to that city having one of the lowest car ownership ratios in Europe.

      1. Yea, get that. It’s just that the often very affordable pass, is almost always not the first purchase of anyone arriving in Auckland. Having PT be perceived as expensive when is for causal or first time users is not ideal for encouraging uptake.

  6. Annual passes, ideally matched with taxation changes, are a great opportunity for employers to fund. Huge win win; it is in no one interest to have the cost of getting to work adding to peoples struggles.

    When working in low paid service jobs in London decades ago getting that all zone annual travel card routinely as part of employment was a huge benefit, freedom of the city. Of course it also meant the employer didn’t care where you lived, but also for your excuses for not turning up. Meant equal access to jobs for people living further out too, often where it’s cheaper to live.

  7. People, you’re still thinking in a pre-COVID context. PT is never, ever solely about the weekday early morning and late afternoon commute. The travel patterns have all changed now and are not going back to what they were. Its now all about the 1-4km journey to run errands, going to ‘work meetings’ / going out to eat etc – all in suburban locations, not trips to/from the city centre. Crosstown journeys are where its at. People don’t want to journey on any transport mode more than 20 minutes. Its not about distance, its about time. Forget about a fare cap. Focus on discounted fares during the day and evenings that reinforce the convenience of using PT to get from A to B to C to D and back – for whatever reason you need to leave your home. Think about the value discounted fares provides 1000-1200, 1300-1500, 1800-2200 for example to groups of people travelling. Concession tickets dont work in a trans-COVID context. Since 2018 Tokyo Metro have had continued success with their ‘offpeak’ fares offering. Its wrapped around an ongoing marketing campaign called ‘Find my Tokyo’ (https://findmy.tokyo/). Its kept people using the network even though COVID continues to hit the city hard. Tokyo Metro dont centre their offering on concession pricing – they do it on a turn-up-and-go basis so that 1000-1200, 1300-1600 and 1800 onwards, its ‘attractive’ to use Tokyo Metro to where you need to go. Hong Kong similarly have used offpeak fares to keep people using the PT network – focussing on the inherent usefulness and convenience PT services provide to daily life in a 1-4 kilometre context.

    1. Rob, I think you are comparing apples and walnuts. The scale of Tokyo is light years away form Auckland. The last figure that I saw for car mode share for Tokyo was 12% and for Auckland about 82%. I suggest its hard to produce any meaningful comparison.
      I wonder about your assertion regarding post covid travel. The last figures that I saw Matt post suggest that many cities PT mode share has recovered well, notably Vienna.

      1. This constant ‘Auckland isn’t Tokyo’ claim doesn’t hold water. It never has. Its not about city size difference, its about off-peak fare design / deployment and the relevance of all day service running. In my line of work, I’m in regular contact with the marketing and comms managers of the major EU PT authorities and operators. Vienna PT operators are struggling to get back to the levels of income they had before COVID hit. Its about people ‘spending’ on the city’s network and in Vienna as in many other cities in Europe, revenue from fares has hit the wall. Its nowhere near pre-COVID levels and govt subsidies for PT are shrinking as the funding has been redirected to bolstering health and education services. Many PT operators in the EU including in Vienna, are seriously looking as fare redesign in order to stay afloat. Vienna’s problem is that politically, making changes to the annual pass and overall fare structure for the city is not a goer but the operators know that is exactly what needs to happen – its a pre-COVID business model that can’t / doesnt work in a trans-COVID / post-COVID environment.

  8. Auckland PT is way over priced and a major cost disincentive to travel.Until central govt get fully onboard and realise PT is a required mode of transport to achieve reduced global emissions, and fully supported by govt financially no hope of ridership growing. Govt need to realise it is not a subsidy but a national requirement to provide free or low cost transport. AT need to get over PT as a revenue to be milked and drive better utilisation.

    1. The surprising thing is that a well constructed pricing model and good farebox recovery are not mutually exclusive. I have seen a figure for Vienna in excess of 50%. The way that they have enticed so many people to commit to monthly and yearly passes has driven huge ridership. Many people are using public transport all day/everyday.

        1. I am comparing the two populations. And Vienna buses alone has ridership of 200 million. I am not suggesting that we have infrastructure to carry 950 million passengers, but we do have the ability to do much, much better with what we have.

  9. I agree choices of weekly, fortnightly & monthly passes for Hop cards would give people further choices & solutions to their PT travels & budgets.

  10. The annual pass would have to have a real incentive, e.g skifield annual pass (Ruapehu)$1,000,daily pass $74. An outdated concept for PT though.
    A quick rummage around AT Metro website for fares,shows a fairly large range of options,probably lost on but the most savvy of users.
    Best option,that popped up fairly quickly on other NZ cities was Christchurch,that had daily and weekly maximums,surely the way to go nowadays,means no massive initial outlay,but reward for sustained use,and easy to understand cost wise.
    Thinking about family travel,could HOP cards be grouped together as families,as an incentive,technology pretty clever nowadays

  11. Another interesting point to think about is, any fare or farebox recovery needs in the next 10 – 15 years are imo interim. Once we get a few more congestion free routes online with good ridership, and improve the bus lanes, the efficiency of these trunk routes will begin to fund more and more of the overall PT system.
    Full buses zooming along the busway are far more productive than busses stuck in traffic.

  12. I have being watching the oil price and I am thinking we are due for another speculator driven hike up well over 100 dollars per tonne. Either that or another middle east crises which will have the same effect. Anyway covid is still with us and public transport is virtually empty. Is public transport any more dangerous than going to the supermarket. Public transport will need support to get going again. One more thing carbon pricing, shouldn’t the money from that be used to electrify public transport. Polluting companies like steel and dairy should be able to finance electric buses to meet their climate obligations. I would like them to be able to nominate where the money goes rather than having it dissappear into an opaque market.

      1. Of course plus record high natural gas prices in the northern hemisphere at the moment with winter coming on this has got to impact the oil price. But autumn is hanging on there its still warmer in London than in Auckland.

  13. Does anybody here know how AT’s advertising revenue compares to fare revenue? If lower fares led to higher ridership, would the increased advertising revenue compensate?

  14. Matt L one place you didn’t show was Hamilton when I first got a Bee card the fare around the city was $1.70 and if you wanted to get to Pukekohue $8.00 . And that was before the Te Huia started .

    1. David Hamilton is not trying to match the frequency which we have in Auckland In fact the Hamilton to Huntly services is only hourly although there are more at peak. And it is well patronised so this makes their costs lower so they can afford to charge lower fares. Pretty smart really. Empty buses are just a waste of space fuel burners.

  15. I think the best way to increase public transport ridership is to improve the comfort of PT. Look at micro mobility services: the Onzo was a magnitude cheaper than e-shooters, but scooters clearly won because they offered a lot more comfort.

    People basically live their lives and do their work to get a little bit more comfort in their lives. The stop/change is the biggest discomfort and biggest stress of public transport travel.

    Of course the train or tram is the best option for most popular routes, but there must be something to fill the gap between them and the bus is really horrible and nothing can improve it. It should just be replaced with something smarter. Bus is bad in about everything, it emits almost as much as a lighter vehicle, it’s not comfortable at all, it has no safety whatsoever for people outside of it, it has no safety for people inside, it’s usually 2.5 meters wide and needs a road wider than a car needs and if it is a “good” bus service with good interval outside of peak hours it is just ironing the city with two-three passengers and most importantly it never goes exactly where you need to go.

    I believe the statistics-only based scheme with routes is simply obsolete for the 21st century when even 70 years old can use smartphones. Probably some kind of on-demand service can be a solution. This does not necessarily mean small capacity taxi service, school-bus service which basically allows routes to be altered or extended for students is known for probably more than a century and it works. Another good example is super-shuttle airport service which works pretty well and when travelling with family even offers better prices. I remember writers of this blog criticized Devonport’s on demand service, but at least this scheme looked attractive, probably this can work better when autonomous vehicles are finally available to the public and the variable capital/labour cost can be removed from on demand service.

    Can somebody comment on this? I know people who like trams, I know even more people who like trains, but I don’t know any single person who likes buses. How can they be fixed?

    1. Andrew
      You talk of Stop / change been the biggest discomfort so I presume you would like to remove unnecessary changes?

      Buses do the bulk of public transport in most cities.
      Under conditions less designed for cars and more designed for Public Transport buses can drop you closer to your destination than cars as cars are not allowed to park there.
      The “uber approach” to buses has flaws, where do they park? How many to you pick up at once? . You probably are more likely to have near empty buses than now.
      Feel free to invent something that can do what buses can do that is better.

      1. “Buses do the bulk of public transport in most cities.” of course they do. And they are bad and they are a reason why people choose private cars which make buses even worse. There could be something to provide a better service I never heard of people stopping using a car because there’s a new bus near, but I know a lot of stories when person sold a car in favour of Uber / car sharing / or electric shooters without any restrictive measures and pressure on them, which means these services offer substantially higher comfort than a bus.

        “The “uber approach” to buses has flaws, where do they park? ” Maybe this alternative service can stop at designated stops as a normal bus, but operate on demand? Potentially this can be operated with vehicles of different size automatically distributed.

        I know it’s probably Naive and Utopian, but why can’t we pursue something new and better? The new micro-mobility is revolutionary why can’t we try to imagine something better to comfortably fill buses niche?

        P.S. I just did a research and it seems like SuperShuttle can be ordered from anywhere to anywhere, for example a trip from Grey Lynn to Te Atatu South would cost $115 for any number of passengers between 1 to 11 which is probably more than what would Uber offer (I don’t have Uber, so I can’t check). Even with 10 passengers it is currently twice more expensive than public transport, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be cheaper with more demand.

        1. What you are describing has been tried and failed before. The main reason it fails is it only provides any certainty if so few people are using it you can rely on it turning up soon after putting in your request.

          If so few people are using it then it isn’t really getting people out of their cars. As much as we might despise buses, routes like the Northern Busway and Dominion Rd do more to get people out of cars than any of the alternatives that you suggest.

      2. “There could be something to provide a better service I never heard of people stopping using a car because there’s a new bus near”

        I stopped driving from home to the bus station when the feeder bus became more frequent.

        1. Agree, we only went down to one car because of the presence of frequent PT, occasionally use Uber but nowhere near as frequently as PT.

    2. I think just getting around should not require a smartphone with mobile internet. You can buy mobile internet but that doesn’t mean everyone has it.

      For buses the solution is the same as for trams and trains. Make sure they don’t get stuck in congestion.

      The on demand idea doesn’t work, if it did Uber would have figured that out by now.

      1. “The on demand idea doesn’t work, if it did Uber would have figured that out by now.” It doesn’t work yet but this doesn’t mean it can’t work at all and there’s Uber-Share or Uber-Split whatever it’s called.

        We can switch imagination: These imaginable on-demand stops from comment above could offer WiFi or some sort of interface to order the bus.

    3. In your example, onzo and e-scooters, are both the same speed / same mode priority. Cars are clearly more comfortable than the northern express, but the northern express is faster so large numbers take it.

      Speeding up the buses would do a LOT.
      And high use double decker routes are the solution until you can get a bypass line or tram put in.

      The devonport service was only providing last mile transport, in an extremely expensive way compared to the alternatives, walking and biking.

      And the school bus model is a bit different. It’s a regular service that gets reviewed on the time scales of year. It has almost guaranteed ridership in my experience. This is totally different from what PT serves in Auckland, especially off peak

      People don’t talk about how good busses are because they are the standard. They’re air conditioned (mostly), pretty quiet, reasonably clean, sometimes quick, and almost always have seats. The worst thing about them is sitting there for too long and not being able to bike to the trunk stations safely.

      1. I think the history will continue going in circles as long as public transport is not ACTUALLY made comfortable. Some municipalities can win in a short term but later with any slight change in circumstances tram rails will be torn away with happy hooves and residents will merge in ecstasy of traffic jams. Seen it very well in Russia, there’s density, there was good public transport, however circumstances changed and now anyone who can buy a car buying a car and traffic is a lot worse than anywhere you can conceivably imagine in NZ.

        Majority exists for little bourgeois joys and no propaganda, restrictions or or guilty for sinking Venezia will stop people from pursuing them unless somebody has produced a good attractive image of something else. I do not see a picture which can substitute white picked fence, lawn and a huge black car for majority, not for a few conscious hipsters, don’t tell me about Netherlands, those who can buy a Range Rover and a backyard do so there.

        Governments who will attempt to prevent people from getting these little things will be sooner or later shaken away.

  16. Matt
    The chart with the title “% change in Adult HOP fare since 2016” is possibly a little ambiguous or at least open to being mis-interpreted.
    i.e. the chart appears to show % growth over 2016 as opposed to % change since 2016.
    e.g. 2 Zones: $3.10 to $3.90 is a change of $0.80
    So the % change is $0.80 / $3.10 = 25.8%
    But the growth is $3.90 / $3.10 = 125.8%
    Overall a really good analysis of our pricing.

  17. Up until Dec-2016 TransLink in SE Queensland had a discount scheme that gave free Go Card fares after the first 9 paid fares each week (Mon – Sun).
    i.e. pay for your first 9 journeys and any additional journeys were free until the next Monday

    But in Dec-2016 they changed this to be pay for the first 8 journeys during the week (Mon – Sun) and any additional fares will be at a 50% discount.
    https://translink.com.au/tickets-and-fares/fares-and-zones/discounts-and-ways-to-save/go-frequently-then-go-for-half

    So not quite a weekly cap, but it does have the effect of encouraging further travel for regular PT users, which would mainly be in the weekends for daily commuters.

  18. Monthly or yearly pass it bit tricky. Imagine you pay for a month and few days later we go into a lockdown. How do we recoup the lost travel cost?

  19. Comparison with Vienna is not really valid if you just convert ticket prices to NZD. You also have to take into account incomes, housing affordability and cost of living and then make the comparison

  20. A really outstanding post Matt that took a lot of preparation.

    It is seriously amazing that GreaterAuckland is the closest we have to an effective transport regulator for public transport.

    Since they are monopoly providers of public transport (or narrowly monopsonist), the Commerce Commission ought to regulate such prices, rather than through the convoluted PTOM contractual mechanisms.

    Great post Matt on a topic affecting hundreds of thousands of people each day.

  21. At present, many employers pay for carparks for their staff, but do not charge the staff for them. Nor do the employers pay FBT on this apparent perk. The reason is that since public transport doesn’t work everywhere and all the time for everyone, without these parks employees wouldn’t be able to get to work at all.

    Why not allow employers to offer PT passes to their staff without attracting FBT? The same could also apply to employers paying costs for covered, secure bike lockers or other costs that improve the carbon footprint or employee health and wellness.

    I like the idea of caps – pay up to $x in a 7 day period and get the rest of it for free. That could be done with linked cards from a single household (5 cards = pay first $5x your household spends this week and get the rest free). If those working or going to school cover that cost during the week anyway, the whole family can move about for free at the weekend, independently or together.

    Another option could be linked to terms – pay for the children’s term buses and get the holidays free, with an option to spread the payments over the whole year. Or an annual cap, so that people who pay from February to November get December and January free. That would help release cash flow at a time of the year when it is often stretched.

    Targeting the money spent on the Super Gold card free travel to people who actually need help with transport costs to education, employment, health care, etc. would make a lot more sense to me.

    Sponsored travel could actually make a good charitable exercise at times like Christmas, allowing people to help others in a meaningful way, while giving certainty and freeing up cash flow for other purposes for the recipients.

  22. There are other reasons why public transport use in Vienna really can’t be compared with Auckland – namely seamless connection with multiple other cities and countries via the extensive European train network. Bratislava is only a half hour away in one direction, Prague only a couple of hours in the other direction, and you can cross the whole of Austria in 3 or 4. All of which is linked into the U-bahn 3 and 6 lines. So easy for thousands of tourists to train into Wien and spend the day there and then leave on another train out – I’ve done that a few times and never bought a yearly pass, obviously, but the system is set up for all visitors to buy a day pass or at least to use the PT system. Vast numbers every day.

    On the other hand, we have Auckland, where the bus has just been connected to Puhinui in the last few months (it works beautifully by the way, I visited shortly before lockdown), but of the 150 passengers on board, I appeared to be the only one to get the bus from the plane to the train, and luckily i already had my Hop card as there is still no signage about where / how / why to buy a Hop in AKL. It is as if (apart from the people on the GA website) there is no interest from AT / AC / AKL to get anyone to use PT – instead, there is just that massive never-ending line of cars and taxis outside the terminal doors.

  23. If you want to make the fair attractive to make people give the car, you must make it a real money saving! Let it an example that it will only cost them one fifth of their cost if they drive , don’t include the parking cost as riding public transport is much less convenient than driving. If the fair is still today high, you are wasting time to make public transport effective. Shall you still wish to compare, compare it with Hong Kong or Tokyo, you will see how attractive it is to ride by public transport: fair around one fifth of taking Taxi and time and convenient is almost the same or even better.

  24. Western European annual passes, like the Netherlands. have inter-city rail links included and are priced for longer distance commuters. They are affordable for salary earners with good enough cashflow to manage a one-time payment or credit card. It should be noted that because of historical political expediency these costs are often wholly or in part tax deductible. That makes comparison to NZ very problimatical.

  25. Thanks for mentioning the family aspect. Here in Christchurch the Regional Council recently had a review of its fair policy. The consultants decided not to look into family discounts, because it did a survey of users and families were not in the top tier deemed “worthy” of a discount. Surely, this should not be about who should qualify for a discount, but how we can get more people into using public transport. It is quite expensive to use public transport as a family, especially once the children get over 5.
    In the “old world” family discounts are fairly common. In Switzerland for example, a child only pays CHF 30 (about NZD 50) a year to travel free in the company of a nominated person for a year. If a child would want to travel with mum, dad and granddad at various times throughout the year that would cost CHF 90.

    1. Oops, it is CHF 30 to travel with either parent, then another CHF 30 for any other person, so mum, dad and granddad would be CHF 60.

  26. Oops, it is CHF 30 to travel with either parent, then another CHF 30 for any other person, so mum, dad and granddad would be CHF 60.

  27. Thanks for the fare comparisons, and I can certainly attest to the value for money I got from a weekly PT pass in Vienna as well… I thought it may have been useful to have included Christchurch for another comparison too. For all the problems that Chch has been having re bus priority and travel-time reliability, routing choices, etc, it’s hard to deny that their fares are very good value. Specifically they are $2.65 for trips up to ~12-15km from the city centre (incl the airport), $3.85 for trips up to ~26-28km away, and $4.70 for trips up to ~40km away. There are also maximum weekly caps, so that you never pay more than $26.50, $38.50 or $47.00 a week respectively…

  28. ‘Yet AT’s strategy over recent years has been to reduce pass options and make them more expensive in order to push people onto the single HOP fares above. ‘ – and I’m lost for words…
    Weekly, monthly and annual passes (at reasonable prices) are the quickest and easiest way to improve ridership and mode shift significantly. So by the default it’s also the one thing AT won’t ever be interested in doing….

    I remember being in Sydney once few years ago (so one of those new world car dependent places) and I was very pleased with daily, weekly, monthly caps and rewards on public transport. Not as good as in Europe but still it would make a big difference.

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