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Fairer fares after GW public consultation

26 October 2017

Fairer fares after GW public consultation

More affordable fares are coming for students, blind and disabled customers, and adults travelling during the off-peak periods in the Wellington region.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has made further changes to simplifying fares and improving overall affordability after consulting the public on its proposed Better Metlink Fares package. The amendments include:

· retaining a 30-day bus pass in zones 1 to 3 in Wellington city, as well as for those travelling directly from Eastbourne
· increasing the discount for blind and disabled customers from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, and offering free travel to accompanying carers
· excluding zone 3 from free bus connections for monthly rail pass holders
· keeping return rail event tickets.

Sustainable Transport Committee Chair Barbara Donaldson says there was strong support at eight public meetings and in more than 700 submissions for retaining 30-day bus passes.

“Heavy users of the passes rightly pointed out that even the new free transfers and off-peak discounts would not counteract an otherwise hefty price rise – so we’ve kept this product.

“We also listened to blind and disabled people who said some already enjoyed a 50 per cent discount, even if it did not apply region-wide. Fairness dictates they should not lose an existing concession so we will extend it to everyone.

“Overall, the public were supportive of the fare proposals, which we will move to implement next July.”

Free bus-to-bus transfers and the proposed concessions for tertiary students and blind and disabled customers received the most public support. This made the decision to make fares more affordable for tertiary students an easy one for the hearing committee.

“Once approved by Council, we look forward to working with the tertiary sector, local councils and the Wellington Regional Economic Agency on making the Wellington region an even better place to study,” says Cr Donaldson.

Once approved, the package will pave the way for the biggest changes in public transport fares for over a decade:

· Full time tertiary students will receive a 25 per cent discount all day on the smartcard fare, which is over 40 per cent off the cash fare.
· All adults travelling on bus and train in the off-peak period will receive a 25 per cent discount.
· A 50 per cent discount will be extended to all schoolchildren whether using a Snapper card or cash, making fares cheaper for shorter distance travel.
· A 50 per cent discount will be extended to all blind and disabled customers, with accompanying carers travelling free.
· A new Metlink Explorer day pass
· 25 per cent charge for cash payments in zone 1

Free bus transfers are also proposed because more passengers will need to switch buses as part of a forthcoming redesign of Wellington city’s bus network. This will provide significant benefit for all bus passengers.

The amendments will add $300,000 to the $7.5 million cost of the package. A 3 per cent general fare rise will pay for a third of the package, with the balance coming from ratepayers and the NZ Transport Agency.

Cr Donaldson says zone 3 was excluded from free bus connections because Johnsonville monthly rail pass holders could have used the pass to travel more cheaply to town by bus, and indeed to have gone beyond Wellington Station as far as Courtney Place for free.

The return rail event tickets will stay until a system is set up so event tickets can be sold with the rail travel component.

At next Tuesday’s meeting, the Council will consider a report summarising all public feedback and the hearing committee responses to issues raised during the consultation.

Greater Wellington will adopt Variation 3 to the Regional Public Transport Plan so new fares policies can take effect in time for changes to Wellington city’s bus network next July.

ends

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