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1 October Bus Fare Increases - Daran Ponter

29 September 2013

Media Community Release



1 October Bus Fare Increases

Bus fares are increasing again on 1 October, this time by an average of 2% (GWRC Notice). The 2% fare increase for 2013 will result in increases in the cost of Snapper and Mana card fares by 3.8% for Zone 1 fares and approximately 2.5% in most other fare zones.

Councillor Ponter says that on average fares have risen by 8% over the past three years.

Council Ponter said that the Regional Council had justified the 1 October fare increases on the basis of “covering rising public transport costs"

However, the Regional Council's 2012/13 Year End result shows that the Council ran a significant budget surplus of approximately $4.5 million in the transport area (see table below).

Indeed, the Year End Report of the PT Group shows for the year 2012/13 the GWRC spent

PT Group 2012/13 Actual ($000s) Budget ($000s) Variance ($000s) Last Year ($000s)
Operating Revenue 94,107 101,186 (7,079) 95,629
Operating Expenditure 92,637 104,185 (11,548)1 92,861
Operating surplus / (deficit) 1,470 (2,999) 4,469 2,768

$11.5M less than budget on public transport services.

Councillor Ponter says "This means that the 1 October fare increases are simply not warranted." "It means that the Council through its own policies has kept prices high and that this year could actually have afforded to provide fare decreases!"

The Council's policy of increasing fares every year irrespective of the circumstances is just simply irrational and does nothing to attract people to use public transport says Councillor Ponter.

Significant Drop In Patronage

As concerning is the fact that peak hour patronage on Wellington buses has dropped by 10% over the past three years (from 11,288,335 trips in 2010/11 to 10,214,328 trips in 2012/13). See http://www.metlink.org.nz/info/statistics/patronage-numbers/. In the same period total patronage (peak and off-peak) dropped by 2%.

At a time when the Regional Council has been predicting patronage increases of 3- 4% per annum, we have gone in precisely the opposite direction, says Councillor Ponter.

Councillor Ponter says "These figures seriously bring into question the efforts that the Regional Council has been taking to encourage people onto public transport."

Councillor Ponter says "At the heart of the problem is the fare structure and the fact that the Regional Council is not innovative enough in its fare products".

Councillor Ponter says that "the Regional Council cannot sit on the sidelines waiting for next petrol spike." It needs a far more aggressive strategy for encouraging people and families onto public transport - cheaper fares, wider discounts, especially in the off-peak and a commitment to park and ride facilities for bus commuters.."

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