Fare increase unlikely this year due to rising rail patronage and lower oil prices
It's unlikely a public transport fare increase will be needed for the Wellington region this year, thanks to increasing numbers of people taking the train and lower than anticipated international oil prices.
Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says a final decision will be made later this month but the situation is looking positive at present.
"At our first workshop for the year, we received a briefing from staff that included some really good indicators: public transport passenger numbers are increasing by more than 2 percent compared to this time last year, with an almost 6 percent in rail passenger numbers, which directly benefits our revenue stream. And oil prices are considerably lower than we had budgeted for. On that basis we agreed that a fare increase doesn't seem necessary - but we'll make a final decision in due course."
The Council reviews public transport fares every year and has a policy of small, annual fare increases rather than very occasional large increases. It also has a policy that fares cover more than half of public transport costs. Rates and taxes cover the remainder.
Fran Wilde says it's great to see that the Regional Council and central government's investment in rail over the last few years is paying off. "More people are choosing to take the train because the services are reliable, modern and enjoyable.
"We'll continue improving the rail network with 35 more Matangi trains arriving from the middle of this year, more frequent peak hour services, double tracking between Trentham and Upper Hutt, and more station upgrades.
"However, our major focus now is the Wellington City bus network. We'll be bringing in an entirely new network from 2017 with high frequency bus routes running across the city from Johnsonville to Island Bay and from Karori to Seatoun. Fewer routes will start or end in the CBD meaning less bus congestion and faster journey times.
"We're committed to delivering similar improvements for bus customers as those now being enjoyed by many rail customers."
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