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Greater Wellington considers 10% increase in public transport fares

Posted: 28 February 2024 | | No comments yet

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is considering a substantial 10% increase in public transport fares to address rising costs and financial constraints.

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Credit: Metlink

In an effort to address rising costs and financial constraints, Metlink has announced that the Greater Wellington Regional Council is deliberating a substantial 10% increase in public transport fares, set to be discussed at a crucial council meeting on 29 February 2024.

The proposed fare hike comes as part of the Annual Fares Review, aiming to offset the escalating expenses anticipated in the upcoming financial year, which are expected to surge by approximately 19%. The council emphasises the need for such measures to mitigate the mounting pressure on rates and debt funding.

Daran Ponter, Chair of Greater Wellington, said: “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.”

The decision to consider a substantial fare increase reflects the complex financial challenges facing the Greater Wellington Regional Council. The council must navigate between maintaining fiscal sustainability and meeting the increasing demands for improved public transport services.

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Public transport, a joint endeavour funded by both central government and the regional council, relies heavily on fare revenues, which currently cover only a fraction of the overall costs. Metlink estimates that without the proposed 10% fare increase, an additional 3.3% rise in rates would be imperative.

Thomas Nash, Chair of the Greater Wellington Transport Committee, said: “We have deliberately kept fare increases below the level of inflation over the last few years to protect people from cost-of-living pressures. But the cost of public transport has gone up significantly while fares have not.”

The proposed fare increase, though significant, aims to maintain the competitive pricing of public transport relative to private vehicle usage, factoring in expenses such as fuel, parking, insurance and maintenance costs. Despite reluctance to burden passengers with higher fares, council members underscore the necessity of sustainable funding mechanisms to prevent the deterioration of public transport infrastructure and services.

However, amidst discussions of fare increases, the council remains committed to preserving affordability for specific demographics, with off-peak and weekend fares, as well as travel for Community Services and Total Mobility cardholders, slated to remain at half price. Pending council approval, the proposed fare increase could come into effect as early as 1 July 2024.

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