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September 18, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Council continues to try to limit fairer fares

Public meetings conducted by the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) on changes to public transport have seen a further push for fairer fares, which was included in the GWRC draft Annual Plan for the first time earlier in 2017.

On September 12, a meeting at St Andrew’s on the Terrace was attended by Wellington councillors including Sue Kedgley, and Council Chair Chris Laidlaw. There were approximately 50 public attendees. The draft plan was read through and audience questions were put to the councillors

The draft plan proposes a 25% public transport discount to full time tertiary students. This would reduce a standard $1.66 Snapper fare for one zone to around $1.20. The proposed system would be similar to that of many Wellington high schools, where student ID cards are integrated with a Snapper system.

However, as the proposed discounts only apply to full time students, the council is struggling to determine the best way to regularly check enrolment, and to accommodate Limited Full Time students.

VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin praised the inclusion of tertiary fares in the plan, but questions the exclusion of part time students.

“With living costs and allowances not even covering the basics, studying full time is not financially possible for many students who need to work or support kids. Excluding part time students from fairer fares will do nothing to make studying easier for them.”

Council representatives have repeatedly stressed the importance of ease of use and simplicity in future transport plans. Lenihan-Ikin questioned this, pointing out that a discount for all tertiary students would be an easier system, by not requiring students to prove their study status.

A comparable system exists in Auckland, where tertiary discounts on public transport only apply to full time students. The system requires students to prove their study status and has been described as “clunky” by Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) President, Will Matthews.

Matthews told Salient that the University of Auckland was working with Auckland Transport to include part time students in their tertiary discounts. “As part time students often choose to study part time because of financial pressures, we’re really pleased that the discount is beginning to be extended to them. We support any kind of discount offered to students, but will always support opportunities that are more inclusive of the whole student body.”

The inclusion of the discount for full time students in the GWRC Annual Plan is estimated at a total of $1.3 million. The estimated cost of including all students is $2 million.

Tertiary student discounts are one aspect of a range of proposals in the draft plan, including off-peak discounts, further discounts for children, and changes to ferry fares. This would be offset by a general 3% fare increase.

The meeting follows a successful push from VUWSA and other tertiary institutions encouraging the GWRC to include tertiary transport discounts in their regional plan. VUWSA’s campaign resulted in 1700 written submissions in support of Fairer Fares. The current proposals have been through a second post-meeting submission period and are currently under consideration by the Council.

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