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Up To 166,000 Kiwis Choosing Public Transport Due To Half-price Fares

The Free Fares Campaign welcomes new research which shows that up to 166,000 people are choosing public transport and leaving cars behind because of half-price fares.

Waka Kotahi has released a second report on the impacts of half-price fares, using data from May to October 2022. It shows that from June 2022, one third of public transport users took public transport more often as a result of half-price fares. Among all New Zealanders, between three and four percent cited half-price fares as their reason for switching to public transport from private cars.

The research shows that, in a matter of months, half-price fares have motivated some 166,000 people to choose public transport instead of private cars. “People choosing public transport results in fewer carbon emissions, less air pollution and less congestion on our roads, and that benefits everybody,” says Free Fares spokesperson Hana Pilkinton-Ching.

Research also shows that half-price fares are improving wellbeing. People are taking more journeys: that is people are visiting family more often, and accessing healthcare, jobs, and education they previously couldn’t afford to get to.

“We are calling on the Government to lock in these benefits, by making public transport half price for everyone, for good. They should also use Budget 2023 to make public transport free for groups that it would make the greatest difference for: under-25s, tertiary students, Community Services Card holders and Total Mobility Card holders and their support people,” says Pilkinton-Ching.

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Given the benefits of half price fares shown by this research, we expect even greater impact from free fares for these target groups.

We know that reducing fares is good value for money. Half-price public transport costs roughly one-tenth of the government’s cut to fuel excise tax and road user charges. It’s also popular. Two polls from November 2022 showed that 4 in 5 adult New Zealanders support the government making half-price transport permanent.

Pilkinton-Ching continues, “In a climate emergency, we should use every available lever to reduce emissions. We acknowledge the need for investment to improve frequency and reliability of services; this should come in tandem with keeping public transport affordable. The Government should lock in half-price fares for everyone, for good, and go further by making fares free for the groups that need it most.”

The Government’s proposed Community Connect scheme, which will provide permanent half-price fares for Total Mobility Card holders and Community Services Card holders, will not go far enough. Many people eligible for Community Services Cards, such as tertiary students, face practical barriers to accessing the cards. Simply making fares free for all of these groups and keeping half-price fares for everyone makes sure that no one misses out because of access issues.

The Free Fares campaign calls on the Government to act on this compelling research by committing to permanent half-price fares for all New Zealanders and free fares for the groups that most need it.

© Scoop Media

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