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July 30, 2018 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editor’s Letter

Without our public transport, we’d be pretty fucked.
For new arrivals to our city, it’s often the only affordable way to get around. For many students, it’s a staple in our daily commute to and from uni.
VUWSA has campaigned since 2013 for Fairer Fares — a 25% discount on our bus fee. That’s five years of meetings, submissions, and kicking up a fuss. Two weeks ago, we finally got our fares fairer. A big win. Most of the people who worked on the campaign aren’t even students anymore but hey, we’re all doing it for the next generation, right?
But amid the turmoil of all the bus changes, things aren’t as celebratory as it could be. Yeah we got cheaper bus fares. But we also got a bunch of other shit with it.
Firstly, the discount isn’t available to part time students. Sure, Metlink would be saving a few extra bucks by not giving part timers a discount, but is it really worth it? Having to sort out which students are full-time and limited full time takes a bunch of extra paperwork.
Currently, to get the long-awaited 25% off, limited full time students have to hit up MSD to get a MSD acceptance letter, then go to the i-Site to get the bus card. Limited full time students are studying part time because they would struggle to finish a full-time workload, because of a disability, medical condition, or language barriers. We all know how fun it is to deal with MSD. Giving the extra legwork to the most vulnerable of our population is… such a good idea, right? Part-timers need to go to class too. Most part-time students will still be taking out student loans, and will be just as in debt as anyone else. It could be so much easier if all students had a discount. We could just flash a student ID and go on our way.
Second. The 18, known as the “Campus Connection” has been canned. The popular route linked Wellington’s eastern suburbs with Vic’s Kelburn and Te Aro campuses, as well as Massey and Toi Whakaari. Now there’s only the 18e, which runs during “peak times” — before and after the 9-5 working day. So convenient for students.

Back in 2015, when the Greater Wellington Regional Council was proposing scrapping the 18, students were vocally opposed. Then VUWSA president Rick Zwaan said that scrapping the 18 would bring “increased travel times, as well as inaccessible transfers” to students, especially those with mobility impairments. They set up a public meeting. They made tee shirts in protest.
The 18 was still cut.

Thirdly. There’s no point in having cheaper buses if catching a ride on a bus is just a little harder than catching a ride on an angry pig. That moment when the last two scheduled buses haven’t arrived, and you’re frantically downloading Zoomy last minute in order to catch the last 30 seconds of your PSYC lecture is… not fantastic. And then seeing three buses arrive at once is kind of laughable. While the out-of-whack schedule and funky bus driving can be attributed to teething problems if you’re feeling generous, Metlink could have planned it better. The double deckers are cool (yeah gotta give them that). The blue lights are weird, and moving the bus stop outside Pip further away just seems silly.

I wanna live in a city that’s friendly to students, listens to what we have to say, and where “improvements” actually improve things. Accessibility isn’t just about price, it’s about all the different aspects of the bus ride experience.
Are you feeling feels about the bus situation? Hit us up at editor@salient.org.nz to bitch to your heart’s content.

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