Regular fare increases necessary
Regular and small increases to Wellington region’s public transport fares are needed to meet increasing costs and service the debts for major improvements, says Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee.
Councillors today agreed that, subject to approval of Greater Wellington’s Long Term Plan and negotiations with operators, some bus, train and harbour ferry fares be increased from October to generate revenue of about 3%. Details of the fare increase will be finalised in the next few months.
An annual 3% increase to fare revenue has been built into Greater Wellington’s draft Long Term Plan 2012-2022 to meet increasing running costs and cover debt servicing for major improvements such as real time information, the new Matangi trains and for proposed new projects such as electronic integrated ticketing.
Peter Glensor says there have been some real improvements in public transport services in the last 12 months. “Real time information, which tells you when your next bus will arrive, is becoming a way of life for Wellington City and Hutt Valley bus commuters, and will soon be rolled out to buses in the northern suburbs and Kapiti. Millions of dollars of work continues to be done to upgrade and maintain the trolley bus network in Wellington City. All new Matangi trains are now running on the Johnsonville Line and more are being brought into service regularly on the Upper Hutt and Kapiti Lines. Commuter train services were extended to Waikanae in February last year and about 120,000 passengers have caught the train to and from Waikanae Station in this time, resulting in a three percent increase in patronage on the Kapiti Line.
“While the Government gives significant funding for these big projects, Greater Wellington provides 10 percent of the funding along with millions of dollars of debt servicing costs each year. We are putting the infrastructure together for a modern, convenient public transport system. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s not cheap, and more improvements are needed.
Peter Glensor says the Greater Wellington is consulting, through the draft Long Term Plan, on an electronic integrated ticketing system for public transport in the region. “This would enable people to pay with one single card for all bus, train and harbour ferry services and if you were making a journey where you needed to connect between different buses or services you would pay just once.
“Regular fare increases are necessary to ensure that debt servicing costs of major improvements and the costs of providing day to day bus, train and harbour ferry services are paid for equitably through our funding sources: rates, central government and fares.
“Under our own Council policy and Government policy we are required to meet around half of our public transport costs from fare revenue. Without relatively small and regular fare increases, we’ll fall under that line and this would mean having to catch up with a whopping big fare increase in a few years’ time. That’s not acceptable; having small and regular increases is more manageable for most people, particularly regular users. Most of these customers use stored value cards or monthly rail passes.
“However, because our ticketing and fare systems do still involve a proportion of fares being paid by cash, we can’t currently have a small, regular across the board fare increases. For cash handling purposes, particularly on the trains and buses, cash fares need to be $1 or 50c amounts. So, although we need an overall fare revenue increase of about 3% a year, the actual increase to cash fares is disproportionate. For example, a 3% increase on a $4.50 fare would be $4.63 but because any increase needs to be rounded up, increasing it to $5 results in an increase of more than 10 percent. To lessen and even out the impact, we’re envisaging that only some cash fares would increase.” Details will be available when negotiations with operators have taken place.
Consultation on Greater Wellington’s draft Long Term Plan, which assumes an annual 3% increase in fare revenue, is now being held. Find out more about the plan and give your feedback or look out for the brochure in your letterbox this week. To give your feedback on the proposed fare revenue increase, please comment in the “other comments” section in the feedback form.
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