Students welcome free public transport announcement
Students have welcomed the Green Party’s announcement today of free off-peak public transport for tertiary students. The policy covers students at university, polytechnic, wānanga, private training establishments, and people training through apprenticeships. The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) says that free public transport for students puts the country one step closer to a tertiary education free of unfair barriers.
‘Students are telling us that after paying for rent, they barely have enough to cover other basic needs like getting to class. Students can’t succeed if they can’t afford to get to class, so any policy which improves student mobility is a step in the right direction’, says National President Jonathan Gee.
The announcement follows the release of NZUSA’s 2017 Income and Expenditure Report, The Cost of Being a Student in New Zealand, which found that rapidly rising rent prices meant students were left with very little cash for other basic needs such as public transport.
Eastern Institute of Technology Students’ Association (EITSA) has been working to get free transport for their students in partnership with Eastern Institute of Technology, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council and Hawkes Bay Regional Council. EITSA spokesperson Moana Potaka says, ‘If students can’t get to class, they can’t succeed in class. Providing free transport may seem a basic option, but for our students that can mean the difference between affording essentials, or attending lectures.’
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) has long campaigned for a student discount on public transport in the Wellington region, including lobbying the Greater Wellington Regional Council. VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin says, ‘Students are telling us the cost of getting to class is so high that they’re skipping class. This is backed by lecturers who have seen their class numbers drop as the cost of living for students grows each year.’
‘Having student fares on public transport is the norm for most major cities around the world, so these policies would bring us a step closer to competing globally for more people to live, study and go on to work in New Zealand,’ says Lenihan-Ikin.
NZUSA is the national voice of students in tertiary education. The organisation is governed by students’ associations from universities and polytechnics around the country.