Greater Wellington welcomes cheaper fares for community services card holders
Greater Wellington welcomed news today that the Government will permanently fund cheaper public transport fares for community services card hold holders.
Chair of Greater Wellington Daran Ponter said there had been strong support for this type of concession during Greater Wellington’s fares review planning and that it was great to see the Government targeting funds to those that need them the most.
“As the earlier half-price fares initiative showed, fare discounts have a role in attracting people to public transport and this funding will directly benefit community members who don’t have the luxury of alternative travel options,” says Cr Ponter.
However, he warned that the challenge of mode shift – getting people out of cars and into public or active transport to reduce emissions and manage congestion – will not be met by lower fares alone.
“Greater Wellington sees discounted fares as part of an integrated package of improvements and climate friendly additions to the network designed to attract more people to public transport,” says Cr Ponter.
Recent improvements include the announcement of Snapper throughout the Metlink rail network, an ‘on demand’ trial in Tawa providing feeder buses to the wider Metlink network and essential community destinations, and plans to upgrade station access at Naenae.
“Each plays its part in meeting our goal of attracting and retaining new and existing passengers to public transport, but extending fare discounts, especially to those that need them the most, will prove a very positive change,” adds Cr Ponter.
Samantha Gain, General Manager for Metlink says rising patronage will bring its own challenges with service provision still affected by staff sickness and isolation due to the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a steady rise in passenger numbers in line with people’s rising confidence to return to work and leisure activities with bus passenger numbers rising from 54% of pre-COVID patronage levels in March to 73% in April, a stunning increase for just one month.
“Providing sufficient capacity – more buses, more trains and more services - will stretch Metlink but we see growing demand as a positive problem which we will actively manage to make public transport the first choice of the travelling public and community members” says Samantha Gain.
Metlink says discounted fares for community services card holders will be introduced as soon as possible with a number of details yet to be ironed out with the Government.
“Once we have council approval, we will prioritise getting the necessary back-end work done with the support of the Ministry of Social Development, our operators and Snapper so we can introduce the concession as soon as is practically possible.
“Our ambition is to implement a system based on Snapper cards that provides dignity and respect for community services card holders where discounted fares are automatically applied,” says Samantha Gain, Metlink General Manager.
The Government announced that it will end its half-price fares initiative by the end of August and introduce the new community services card funding for public transport as part of today's budget. More detail can be found at the Budget’s dedicated website.