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Free Fares A Clear Step In The Pathway To Lower Transport Emissions In Auckland

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport released their Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway (TERP) this week, calling for a significant increase in public transport use. The Free Fares campaign supports this call, urging the Government to implement free public transport for under-25’s, tertiary students, Community Services Card Holders, and Total Mobility Card holders and their support people in order to boost use amongst our lowest income earners.

“According to the TERP report released by Auckland Council this week, Aucklanders are spending on average $230 a week on transport costs. That money simply does not exist for our lowest income and most vulnerable. Free Fares would result in giving these people back their money to spend on more important things: food, warmth and a dignified life,” says Free Fares Campaign organiser Mika Hervel.

The report calls for at least a 62% increase in trips taken using public transport, walking and cycling. For our lowest income earners, it simply is not possible to do this without greater financial support from the Government.

“In order for people to increase their public transport use, it needs to be affordable. We have seen the popularity of half price fares and it is clear that this is having a significant impact in reducing the cost pressures right now. Expanding this to be free fares for select groups would result in long-term assistance for these people, and promote mode shift towards lower emissions transport,” Hervel said.

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As part of the plan, the pathway suggests “fair fares” as one of the actions needed in order to meet the 64% reduction in transport emissions by 2030. The Free Fares campaign believes free public transport for select groups has to be part of this.

“Free Fares is necessary for reducing transport emissions. We cannot expect low income earners to buy electric vehicles, or pay for expensive public transport, or somehow walk to work. They are often the people who live furthest out, have the lowest disposable income and simply do not have the means to transition to a ‘low carbon’ option. The Government needs to implement Free Fares in order to give them that option,” says Hervel.

Recently, the Free Fares campaign was backed by Local Government New Zealand, further expanding the nonpartisan support the campaign has from all corners of Aotearoa. The Free Fares Campaign continues to call on Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to fund the Free Fares ask immediately.

“Councils are calling for this. Universities are calling for this. Parents are calling for this. Young people are calling for this. Beneficiaries are calling for this. Total Mobility card holders are calling for this. You would be hard pressed to find a policy that is as widely supported as Free Fares right now. The Government needs to act,” says Hervel.

Free public transport for under-25’s, tertiary students, Community Services Card Holders and Total Mobility Card holders and their support people is needed, and it is needed now.

The full report by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport can be read here: https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/news/2022/08/transport-emissions-reduction-pathway/

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