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The Green Party is promising students free use of public transport at off-peak times in the lead-up to the election.
The ‘Green Card’ would be available for all tertiary students, who number up to 325,000, as well as 28,000 apprentices.
Off-peak times will be set between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm, and any time after 6.30 pm until the end of service on weekdays. All weekends and public holidays will also be included.
The Green Card will cost the government up to $30 million per year, or from $1.70–2.20 per trip. The funding will come from a re-prioritisation of spending from the National Land Transport Fund.
Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman said the Green Card “will reduce the cost of transport for students. It is an investment in students and education.”
“For less than the cost of one kilometre of one of National’s motorway projects, we can provide all tertiary students and apprentices with free off-peak public transport.”
VUWSA President Sonya Clark said that the Green Card was “a leap forward in addressing the cost of transport for tertiary students.”
“This is a long overdue provision that recognises the importance of access to higher education… and begins to address the financial hardship of tertiary students.”
“Students are the only group in society expected to borrow in order to meet their living costs. Transport makes up a huge part of living costs.”
Welfare Vice-President of VUWSA Rick Zwaan said: “we would like [the Green Card] to go further and provide for on-peak travel as well, as students don’t get to choose when they have lectures. A third of students at Vic travel during peak time so we need concessions for them too.”
Dr Norman continued: “research from 2011 found 67 per cent of students were spending money on public transport, with an average spend of $35.40 per week.”
“Students are facing rising living-cost pressures; transport, food, power, rent… the Green Card is a way of helping to reduce costs to help students make ends meet.”
The Green Card is similar to the Palmerston North free bus scheme that was implemented in 2004 and has seen a 38 per cent rise in student use of public transport.
“By increasing student patronage on our public-transport network, we can cost-effectively provide improved services for everyone.”
Dr Norman concluded that “a well-utilised public-transport system is a vastly more efficient way to get around, and one that improves air quality and reduces carbon emissions.”