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July 15, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Fair Go Gone?

The Greater Wellington Regional Council’s latest draft proposal shows they are not yet onboard with fairer fares for tertiary students, with no tertiary concessions planned in the short- or long-term future.

The draft proposal, released last month, covers bus, rail and ferry fare structures. It has been criticised by VUWSA as doing “nothing to help tertiary students” with travel costs, and described as a “spectacular failure of vision”.

“[The] decision goes no way to show that we are a community that values the talent that tertiary students bring to our region,” said VUWSA Vice-President Welfare Rick Zwaan.

“It doesn’t make sense that school students, who often live at home with the financial support of their parents, will receive more support under the changes while tertiary students are ignored.”

Zwaan leads the VUWSA-run Get on Board for Fairer Fares for Tertiary Students campaign. As previously reported by Salient, the campaign proposes a student concession card that Zwaan has said will contribute to “equitability of student life, cultural and economic vibrancy, a sustainable, low-carbon future and retaining tertiary talent in Wellington.”

VUWSA spent $15,000 on the campaign, which is thought to have the support of five of 13 Councillors. Zwaan told Salient this was a good use of students’ money.

“Fairer Fares has been a great success with our students … because this campaign shows how effective VUWSA can be at getting the average student’s issues out there in the community and talking about something that affects us all,” said Zwaan.

“The campaign didn’t cost much in the scheme of things.”

Zwaan does not believe this is the end for the campaign, stating tertiary concessions can still be a reality outside of the Council’s draft proposal. He encourages students to vote for councillors who are in support of tertiary discounts.

According to Chair of the Council’s Economic Wellbeing Committee Peter Glensor, who leads the public-transport committee, discounted fares for all tertiary students regardless of their economic circumstances is unfair.

“It’s unrealistic. There are some who are living at home with Mum and Dad and driving the beamer. This avoids us having to choose winners and losers when making decisions about fare concessions.”

Council staff said that offering a 25-per-cent discount to tertiary students would grow total patronage by 0.5 per cent while costing $1.5 million in lost revenue. Discounting all off-peak travel by 25 per cent would cost would cost the Council $4.5 million, but would grow total patronage by eight times as much as a tertiary discount.

The drafted fare structure aims to make public transport across the region more affordable, accessible and user-friendly. The proposal would implement a 50-per-cent discount for all travellers under the age of 19 and a 25-per-cent discount for all off-peak travel within the next two to three years. Other proposed changes include a weekend family pass, a universal smart-card system, a cap on fares that would see passengers stop paying after a certain amount of trips, and the creation of a fare structure used by both bus and rail.

Peter Glensor has said “the structure is based on a set of very sound principles to help us meet our desired goals that include: increased public patronage, affordable public transport, and a simpler, fairer, and more consistent system.”

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