"Perfect timing" for Pōneke Collective's presentation to Greater Wellington
Greater Wellington councillors welcomed strong representation from Pōneke Collective, a broad coalition of students and welfare groups seeking more equitable access to public transport, at yesterday’s Transport Committee meeting.
The Collective asked the Committee to pilot free public transport for Community Service Card holders and students in Wellington region – and Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter says their presentation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Not only is the council gearing up to undertake a review of Metlink’s fares structure, it’s also urging the Government to extend its Auckland-based trial on reduced fares for low income-earners to Wellington region.
“We’re already in the process of kicking off a comprehensive review of Metlink fares. As part of that process, we’re looking at how we can lessen financial hurdles to public transport usage for vulnerable members of our community.
“We’ll be asking the public to feed into this process in the very near future, so we encourage Pōneke Collective, as well as any other group, to ensure their views are represented by making a formal submission,” says Cr Ponter.
The fares review comes as Greater Wellington prepares for the implementation of the National Ticketing Solution, which will see a unified ticketing solution for buses, trains and ferries across the country.
“We currently offer 25 per cent discount all day on Snapper fare for all full time tertiary students. Members of our blind and disabled communities receive a 50 per cent discount on their fares, with accompanying carers travelling for free. We’re keen to review these concessions, and consider new ones, as part of the upcoming review,” Cr Ponter adds.
Councillors hope that the Collective’s proposal, when put to the Government, will also build momentum for bringing a concession pilot to Wellington region.
“Earlier this year the Government signalled that it intends to trial half price fares on public transport for Community Service Card holders in Auckland. We jumped on this opportunity to ask the Government to build quickly on its Auckland experience and work with us to instigate a similar trial here in Wellington.
“We have no doubt that the passion and human stories that Pōneke Collective can bring to those discussions will help persuade the Government to accept our proposal to bring a pilot here,” says Cr Ponter.
Transport Chair Roger Blakeley says the next step is for Pōneke Collective to get the Government onside, something the group says they intend to do in September.
“In theory, any initiative that enables more equitable access to public transport is something we want to support. The more people we have using public transport, the quicker we’ll be able to reduce our regional carbon emissions down to more sustainable levels. We’re aiming for carbon positivity by 2035, and we critically need more people using buses, trains and ferries to achieve that goal.
“But the reality is that any decision concerning fares will need support from the Ministry of Transport, which is an important funding partner. We’ve made it clear to Pōneke Collective that we will support them as they take their case to Minister Wood next month,” says Cr Blakeley.
Greater Wellington thanks Pōneke Collective for coming out in full force to its Transport Committee this week, and looks forward to working together towards a Government-backed concession pilot in Wellington region.
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