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Rising Fuel Linked To Bus Fare Increase

Date: 22 May, 2008

Rising Fuel Linked To Bus Fare Increase

The cost of travelling on Whangarei’s public bus service will rise from July 1 with skyrocketing fuel costs linked to the first increase in ticket prices in six years.

Northland Regional Councillors agreed yesterday (subs: weds 21 May) to increase fares from July 1 to coincide with the introduction of a new service that will boast a 10-strong fleet of brand new buses running to an extended timetable.

Glenn Mortimer, the Regional Council’s Planning and Policy Manager, says Councillors had little choice but to raise fares given they had not increased since the current service began six years ago. That was despite the cost of diesel increasing from only about 64 cents a litre to just under $1.68.

From July 1 the cost of an adult single fare will increase 50 percent (from $2) to $3 with the cost of a single child fare doubling to $2. Mr Mortimer says trip costs can be reduced by buying 10-trip tickets, although the price of these will increase too – an adult’s from $15 to $25 and a child’s ticket from $8 to $16.

Mr Mortimer says passenger numbers will be closely monitored once the new fares take effect to ensure users are not unduly affected.

He says the bus service will not be alone in increasing fares to try to combat rising fuel costs as two of Whangarei’s three taxi companies had had to increase their fares last month too.

Meanwhile, Regional Councillors yesterday also agreed to implement a new targeted rate from July 2009 in the Whangarei area to help fund the bus service.

At this stage no decision has been made as to whether the rate should be limited to the urban Whangarei area – in which case the estimated rate would be about $21.60 per property – or applied to the entire District, in which case it would fall to about $11.10. A final decision on how widely to apply the rate – and the actual amount to be levied - will be made through the Regional Council’s Long Term Council Community Plan process next year. That process will include public consultation.

Mr Mortimer says the bus service is currently administered by the Regional Council but funded by the Whangarei District Council (WDC) and Land Transport NZ (LTNZ). However, late last year the two Councils had agreed to a two-year staged handover of funding responsibilities to the Regional Council.

From July next year that will see the Regional Council and LTNZ pay just over $388,000 each towards the annual $1.49M cost of the service. Fare revenue of almost $713,000 will make up the difference.

Those figures are based on predictions the bus service will be carrying about 303,000 passengers annually.


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