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Public transport fares increase to be considered by Greater Wellington

Raising public transport fares by 10 percent will be considered by regional councillors at a Greater Wellington Council meeting on Thursday 29 February.

For the Annual Fares Review, the council will also be asked to note that to reduce pressure on rates and debt funding, a fares increase of at least a 10 percent is required to partially cover public transport costs expected to rise by approximately 19 percent in the next financial year.

Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter says inflation and escalating expenses backdrop the stark decision faced by councillors.

“Like all councils, we’re caught between a financial rock and a fiscal hard place. Do we ask passengers to pay more to use public transport, or do we hike rates even higher?

“We’d never consider an increase of this size if we weren’t also faced with tough choices about raising rates and cutting spending in this year’s Long Term Plan.”

Public transport is jointly funded by central government and the regional council, with fares only covering about a third of costs.

Metlink estimates that without the 10 percent fares increase, a further 3.3 percent rates rise would be required.

“We have deliberately kept fare increases below the level of inflation over the last few years to protect people from cost-of-living pressures,” says Greater Wellington Transport Committee chair Thomas Nash.

“But the cost of public transport has gone up significantly while fares have not.

“Given the effects of inflation on the cost of driving a car, a 10 percent fares increase would still leave public transport journeys competitively priced compared to using private vehicles, once you take into account fuel, parking, insurance and maintenance costs,” Cr Nash says.

“I don’t want to be putting fares up. But we want to continue to grow our services, and with what’s on the cards for rates, unless we were to see a significant increase in government funding, the alternative to a fares increase at this point is for our network to decline.”

Off peak and weekend fares on the Metlink network will remain half price as will travel for Community Services and Total Mobility card holders.

Subject to council decision, the fares increase could be implemented on 1 July 2024.

 

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