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Councillors get on board with Fairer Fares

Councillors get on board with Fairer Fares

Today the Greater Wellington Regional Council voted to introduce a 25% concession on public transport for tertiary students in the region, provided Wellington City Council and tertiary institutions helped to fund it.

The Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association is pleased to see the Council taking their campaign for Fairer Fares seriously and acknowledging the value students bring to Wellington, however more needs to be done.

“It’s a great step in the right direction towards creating a region that is supportive of tertiary students,” says VUWSA President Sonya Clark. “Public transport takes up a significant part of students’ weekly budgets, and the reality is many simply can’t afford to get to class due to the cost.”

“For Wellington to have a vibrant future, it needs to attract and support talent. Investing in our tertiary students will be key to achieving this, and it’s time local government recognised that tertiary concessions are a big part of that.”

“We’re delighted that the Wellington City Council and Victoria University are aware of this and have signalled that they’re happy to continue the discussion to make Fairer Fares a reality for students.”

Victoria University of Wellington’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford “welcomes the move by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to consider discounted public transport fares for tertiary students.” Guilford has previously signalled that he is on board with the Fairer Fares campaign and keen to continue the discussion on how to make it happen.

Wellington City’s Deputy Mayor, Justin Lester said “It's a big step forward to see some meaningful progress on the Fairer Fares campaign. Today's decision sidesteps the issue somewhat because public transport funding is the remit of GWRC and they have the sole ability to help students across the whole region, but we’re keen to help make this happen and will sit down and work toward a solution.”

VUWSA has been campaigning on student concessions for a number of years. In the past year over 3000 have been actively involved in the campaign, signing thousands of post cards and sending hundreds of emails. Recently, over 280 students submitted on the Draft Regional Transport Plan in the space of a few days.

To symbolise this support, VUWSA made a miniature bus out of some of the Fairer Fares postcards and bought it along to today’s meeting.

VUWSA Welfare Vice President Rick Zwaan says that “it’s crucially important that Greater Wellington goes all the way and actually introduces Fairer Fares for tertiary students.”

“We see students every day who travel in from the likes of Upper Hutt that are spending upwards of $70 a week on public transport. When you only receive $172 per week from student loan living costs, that represents a significant part of a student's budget.”

Students make about 3.5 million trips per year on public transport throughout the region, making up a significant proportion of current patronage. However research has shown that the percentage of students using public transport is declining.

“In the last few years we’ve seen a 30% increase in the number of students driving to campus, simply because the upfront cost of petrol is cheaper,” says Zwaan.

VUWSA will continue to put pressure on elected officials region-wide to turn the talk into action.

“It’s a no-brainer that for Victoria to be a ‘capital city university’ that is an asset for the region, the region needs to invest in its students” concludes Clark.


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