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Council to vote on free weekend transport for under 15s

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Councillors Chris Darby and Richard Hills want more Aucklanders to use public transport and have today announced a proposal to make public transport free on weekends and public holidays to all under 15 year olds.

The free fares for children under 15 proposal is accompanied by another proposal to integrate ferries into the public transport system which would apply fixed price ticket charges for travel within certain zones no matter what mode of transport is taken. Every ferry passenger who catches a bus or train at each end of the journey using a HOP card would stand to benefit from lower prices as a result.

The announcement comes as Auckland’s public transport patronage figures are expected to break the 100 million passenger trips in the next few months having grown by more than 10% in the year to April 2019.

Mayor Phil Goff said, “Making public transport free to under 15 year olds on weekends and public holidays is a no brainer and comes at minimal cost. It’ll help encourage more families onto our buses and trains and encourage the next generation of Aucklanders into becoming public transport users.

“Both Councillors Darby and Hills have championed these proposals tirelessly and I am pleased we will be including these changes in my proposals for the Annual Plan which Councillors will consider next week.

“Auckland Transport estimates that the proposal for under 15 year olds will increase passenger usage by 989,000 a year at times when there is underutilisation of Auckland’s public transport assets.

“Every person on a bus, train or ferry seat is one less in a car on our roads. We have to do everything we can to encourage more people onto our public transport system and I expect free travel for under 15 year olds will help do that,” Phil Goff says.

Councillor Chris Darby says, “The poor cousin status of ferry users is no more with confirmation of integration of ferry-feeder bus and train fares with ferry fares.

“The proposal to integrate ferries into our public transport network is expected to reduce fares for more than a quarter of ferry passengers with HOP cards and it is estimated to lift ferry usage by an estimated 180,000 passenger trips.

“Auckland Transport’s commendable fast-forwarding of integration by 10 years will provide big benefits for ferry passengers.

“Integration effectively means a single zone bus or train journey to or from the ferry is fare-free. Taking a connecting bus or train to the ferry is now incentivised, making cross-harbour ferries a lot more attractive with fewer cars clogging terminal car parks and local roads,” said Chris Darby

Councillor Richard Hills said, “Free kids weekends will unlock public transport travel around Auckland for families, it will also encourage many to try our buses, trains and ferries without hitting them in the pocket. This will increase patronage across the network for years to come.

“This is great first step in our desire to make public transport more affordable and easier for everyone with this first focus being on young people and families.”

“If this proposal is successful, we hope to have free fares for under 15s in place later this year. I encourage all parents and caregivers out there to get their child a HOP card, leave the car at home and give public transport a go,” said Cr Hills

Phil Goff says, “Public transport passenger growth in Auckland has been phenomenal. The distance travelled by Auckland buses has increased 32 per cent each year, passenger satisfaction rates are running at over 90%, our network is more safe, reliable and frequent.

“Aucklanders are getting both better services and value for money and more are leaving their cars at home,” Phil Goff said

Both proposals come at a combined total cost of $1.1 million and will be included in the Mayor’s Proposal as part of the Annual Budget to be voted on in May by Councillors.

Fare optionAnnual opex impactPatronage increaseCustomer impact
Free weekend/public holiday travel for 5-15yr olds$0.5m 989,00058,000 children concessions + 989,000 patronage increase

Ferry fare integration$0.6m180,00028% of ferry HOP passengers will potentially benefit


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