Friday, February 23, 2024

Public transport fares set to rise

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The cost of taking a bus and other forms of public transport in Auckland is going up from February 4. Times file photo Wayne Martin

The amount of money public transport users pay to get around the city is about to increase.

Auckland Transport (AT) says it reviews its fares against changes in operating costs and available budget each year.

It takes into account the cost of living and the investment needed to maintain and improve public transport services.

To help the agency meet its “significant and sustained” operating cost increases, fares will rise from February 4.

AT director public transport and active modes, Stacey van der Putten, says: “This year we are having to increase fares to keep up with the rising cost of running and maintaining Auckland’s public transport network.

“In recent years we’ve been mindful of the impacts Covid-19 and extreme weather has had on our customers.

“We deferred last year’s fare increase until April and in 2022 there was no increase at all.

“But operating costs have spiked dramatically over this period, driven by high inflation and staff shortages.

“Adjusting fares to raise revenue is unfortunately one of the steps AT needs to take to cover these higher costs.”

Van der Putten says a weighted average increase of 6.2 per cent will be implemented across AT’s fare structure.

For standard adult fares, it works out to be an increase of between $0.06 and $0.40 per journey on buses, trains and ferries.

“We’re committed to keeping public transport an affordable option for all Aucklanders, so the increase for longer journeys is only 1-4 per cent,” she says.

“Shorter journeys on Auckland’s public transport will still remain some of the most affordable in the world when compared with many other international cities.”

Despite the fare increase, patronage growth is forecast to continue and the agency says that will generate more revenue to help AT meet its operating costs.

That growth will be accelerated by the introduction of contactless payments for fares via debit/credit card, Apple Pay and Google Pay later this year, which will make public transport more accessible for those without a HOP card.

“Aucklanders can also look forward to simpler fares and more affordable public transport for frequent users following an independent review of AT’s fare structure,” the agency says.

“The review will explore initiatives such as a weekly fare cap and its findings are expected in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, Transport Minister and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown recently announced the coalition Government has cancelled the Auckland Light Rail project.

The previous Labour Government had spent more than $200 million on planning for the project without having laid a metre of track, he says.

“Auckland Light Rail would have cost taxpayers $15 billion, with advice showing the cost could increase to $29.2 billion.

“The Government is committed to delivering infrastructure that will reduce congestion, boost productivity, and create a more reliable and resilient transport network that drives economic growth.”

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