First public transport fare rise in two years balances inflationary costs and affordability
Greater Wellington will increase standard public transport fares across the region by 6% following a decision at Council today on its Annual Fares Review (AFR).
Despite the patronage and farebox challenges of COVID-19, funding efforts to reduce the national driver shortages and high inflation impacting service costs, the regional council has not raised public transport fares during the last two years.
Councillors considered how best to manage the rising costs, around 13% over the last two years, within current budgets. As part of their deliberations, councillors also factored in ongoing patronage recovery since COVID-19, the impact of the Government’s half price fares programme and the upcoming launch of the Community Connect Scheme, as well as the range of concessions Metlink already has in place.
Cr Thomas Nash, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport committee, says regular and smaller fare increases over time are unavoidable under current funding settings if we want to provide better services in the future.
“Ideally, we want to keep fares as low as possible to encourage people to use public transport. But we also need to have the money to improve services so we can provide a service that is more convenient than driving. We are already putting rates up so the only way to get where we need is to increase fares at a pace that is easily absorbed by the community. This small fare increase will happen in conjunction with additional discounts off peak and for students and children, so in a lot of instances the net outcome will still be lower fares for those that rely on public transport the most.
Half price fares are still in place until 1 July and after that those with Community Services Cards will have permanent access to half price fares.
The average increase to a single adult bus fare will be around 10 cents or 20 cents once half price fares end, so we are still attempting to keep fares affordable for those facing the rising costs of living,” says Cr Nash.
Public Transport costs are funded by three main sources: fares, rates and national funding received via Waka Kotahi. Greater Wellington’s AFR is a means to adjust the contribution of one of these sources of funding to ensure costs are shared in a manner that is equitable and sustainable in the long term. The AFR looks at the expectations of costs and revenue, and determines the extent of any fare adjustments required to balance the user contribution with public funding.