Metlink to slash off-peak fares, make weekends and public holidays free for children
Off-peak fares on Metlink public transport services will be reduced and children will ride for free on weekends and public holidays, as part of a package of concessions agreed today by Greater Wellington.
Fares are currently discounted by 25 percent to encourage off peak travel, but the regional council today agreed to increase the discount to 50 percent, which will also apply to concession holders.
Greater Wellington Transport Committee Chair Roger Blakeley said he was pleased the council had adopted the recommendations of the Future Fares Subcommittee.
“Through public consultation we heard very powerful stories on the importance of affordable public transport,” Cr Blakeley said.
“The changes today will effectively halve off-peak travel costs for tertiary students, children, accessibility customers and Community Services Card holders.”
The ‘off peak fares package’ will be progressively implemented next year, after the full roll out of Snapper is complete on Metlink’s rail network.
Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter said the package would shift demand from the network’s busy peak.
“The intense demand for peak time travel in Wellington has created a peakiness that our network is recognized for within Oceania,” Cr Ponter said.
“Encouraging more people to travel off-peak should help to relieve pressure on the network and reduce the need for drivers to perform split shifts, an impediment to attracting people to the profession.
“The package will also enable more people to use public transport at weekends and on public holidays. This will have big benefits for families attending sports and cultural events, including those at Sky Stadium.”
Councillors also agreed to work towards ‘fare capping’, and ‘integrated fares’ across multi-modal (bus, ferry and rail) journeys. These improvements are expected to be developed as part of the government’s National Ticketing Solution.
In the meantime, the council agreed that Greater Wellington will advocate for the government to extend Community Connect to include Total Mobility.
Under Community Connect, public transport fares will be half price for Community Services Card holders from 1 February 2023. This discount will not apply to Total Mobility, a transport scheme for people with mobility impairments.
Councillors noted that Metlink officers will investigate the potential for Greater Wellington to procure its own fleet of total mobility vehicles.
It was also confirmed at today’s council meeting that all Metlink fares will continue to be half price until 31 January 2023, and in perpetuity from that date for Community Services Card holders. The government is funding the discounts through its half-price fares initiative and Community Connect.
“The extension of the half-priced fares invites questions about the significant investment needed in the bus and train networks to cater for the correlating increase in peak time patronage,” Cr Ponter said.
“This includes funding for a fleet of electric trains, which we’ve already requested from the government.”