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Passengers Dealt Double Blow For Christmas

Passengers Dealt Double Blow For Christmas

An unexpected gift is being delivered to Auckland public transport users just in time for the holiday season. Auckland Transport will increase the cost of purchasing new HOP cards from $5 to $10 from Friday, 17 December. As yet, no justification for the increase has been provided.

The Public Transport Users Association opposes increasing the cost of the HOP card, particularly at a time when AT should be encouraging people to choose public transport over cars. PTUA spokesperson Jon Reeves says that “while AT have been doing some great things for PT users, this completely unjustified increase is more proof that one arm of AT doesn’t know what the other is doing – and public transport users in Auckland deserve better”. This decision has been questioned by public transport lobbyists across the board because it makes no sense.

The increase follows last week’s announcement that Kiwirails’ Northern Explorer train service between Auckland and Wellington will relocate from its current home at the Britomart Transport Centre to the extremely inconvenient Strand platform at the former Auckland Railway Station, over 1.2 km from its present location in Downtown.

Kiwirail say a free shuttle service will operate between the Strand and Britomart, however the PTUA are concerned this service will only be temporary. Comment from large tourist operators in Auckland suggest they are unhappy about the impact these changes will have on their customers, and have stated they will keep the PTUA informed of any issues that arise following the changeover.

The PTUA has received emails from Paul Reidy, Kiwirail CEO, and Gavin Rutherford, Head of Kiwirail Scenic, but it is clear they seem to be surprisingly unaware of the damage the relocation will do to the appeal of the service. Arriving in the centre of downtown Auckland is a significantly more attractive conclusion to a 10.5 hour long train journey, however “being dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no public transport links, after that long journey, is not the smartest solution they could have come up with” Reeves says.

“I have challenged Gavin Rutherford to join me on the 23 minute walk with two suitcases from Britomart to the Strand, to see if he still truly believes it is a convenient distance for passengers to negotiate. He has failed to reply to that request.” Jon Reeves said.

The PTUA suspects Auckland Transport is behind the Kiwirail decision to relocate the service, and have asked for confirmation from AT that it has not asked Kiwirail to leave Britomart. No reply has yet been received from AT management. PTUA concludes that AT do not support long distance rail, and that the organisation has become disconnected from what best serves the public in this case.

This Christmas, the anti-public transport options being offered by AT and Kiwirail leave much to be answered for.


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