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As the cost of living in central Wellington continues to rise, students are becoming frustrated with the lack of subsidised transport in the region.
One such student is Byron Oosthuizen who set up an online petition calling for student fares on Metlink transport. The petition currently has over 3500 signatures.
Oosthuizen, who lives in Mount Cook, said the time it takes to walk to Kelburn Campus leaves him with no choice but to bus.
The bus costs him $25.00 per week, a figure which if subtracted from student loan living costs, would leave him with just $151 for rent and expenses.
VUWSA President Jonathan Gee said the organisation had been lobbying for subsidised student fares for four years.
The high price of transport in the Greater Wellington region concerned Gee, who believes students are already “paying so much to attend university, but they can’t afford to get there.”
Compared to other cities housing major tertiary institutes, Wellington transport is falling behind.
Auckland Transport’s tertiary concession provides a discount of up to 30%, and Dunedin, Whanganui, and Palmerston North providing similar discounts.
According to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Dunedin’s tertiary transport discount is funded with the fares of other public transport users.
For students at Massey University and UCOL in Palmerston North, public transport is free.
Deputy Mayor and 2016 mayoral candidate Justin Lester, and Green MP Gareth Hughes, have asserted their support for a tertiary discount on Wellington public transport in response to Oosthuizen’s petition.
Lester said, “if we really want to call ourselves a student city, then we need to walk the talk.”
He also acknowledged that driving was significantly cheaper than using public transport, adding that he looks forward to continue working with VUWSA in advocating the cause.
With cheaper fares not expected until 2018 at the earliest, both Lester and Hughes believe it’s a wait that’s far too long.
Hughes said delays were the result of the council wanting to find other ways to fund the scheme, and that “the council just needs to step up and fund it.”
In an effort to address the problem, the Green Party have proposed a Student Green Card. This would provide free off-peak transport to students nationwide.
According to the NZUSA, the number of students experiencing financial hardship has doubled since 2012. Students are also the only group in society that live off borrowed money.