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Free Fares Campaign Disappointed With Emissions Reduction Plan

The Free Fares Campaign is disappointed in the lack of mention of public transport fares in the Emissions Reduction Plan, released today by the Government. While the plan has some good wins, such as decarbonizing the public transport fleet and increased investment in active and shared modes of transport, it fails to protect our low-income and disadvantaged communities as we transition to a carbon-free future.

Across the country, Kiwis have been disappointed by this Government’s actions to combat climate change. The Emissions Reduction Plan is another unfortunate example of where the Government has simply missed the mark and failed to implement policies for the transition we need. In this plan, we see a continuation of an individualised culture and a focus on car ownership, with support for people to purchase EVs and stay on the roads rather than investing in mode shift and more accessible public transport - which is what we need.

An Auckland resident said that as a country, it is critical “to encourage the young to support the public transport system, to create a generational change in New Zealand society. Instead of motorists’ privilege and selfishness we need to build a caring future where children, cyclists, pedestrians, can move about the city safely.” With the lack of public transport focus in the Emissions Reduction Plan, we will continue to build a car-dependent culture. Combined with the fact there will be no ban on fossil fuel vehicles, this is a recipe for further emissions and further destruction of our planet. This has to change.

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We call on the Government to take further action than what they’ve agreed to in the Emissions Reduction Plan, and provide free fares for under-25’s, tertiary students, Community Services Card Holders, and Total Mobility Card Holders and their support people. It is critical that we increase accessibility of options other than car ownership, and support our lowest income earners at the same time. We are an unequal society, and the actions this plan has produced will keep contributing to that inequality.

In order to make change, we must be bold. This plan is not bold enough. While the Government has signalled that more is to come in the Budget, we are not placing bets that free fares will be part of this. We urge Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to put greater consideration into our call, and implement it as part of further work to lower our emissions and support disadvantaged communities.

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