Saving the planet and the pocket: trial bus fares could reduce emissions and costs for users

  • ECan councilors voted unanimously to include a $2 fixed bus fare trial in this year’s annual plan.
  • Those under 25, college students, and Total Mobility and Community Service cardholders should only pay $1.
  • ECan aims both to reduce emissions by getting more people on buses and to reduce cost barriers.
  • Flat fares would include people traveling to Rangiora or Lincoln.
  • ECan will make its final decision on the annual plan next month.

Getting a bus from satellite towns to Christchurch could soon cost students and community service cardholders just $1 after a low-cost flat-rate trial won universal backing from Canterbury councillors.

Councilors from Environment Canterbury (ECan) met on Tuesday to discuss the regional council’s draft annual plan and develop a final version which will be voted on in June.

ECan had considered three options for revising public transport fares – a fixed $2 fare, free buses for targeted groups or higher education students paying child fares – but after public consultation councilors voted unanimously for a hybrid option.

The proposed model will see a fixed $2 fare in Greater Christchurch for Metrocard holders, including areas currently in zone two, such as Lincoln in Selwyn or Rangiora in Waimakariri.

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It will only be $1 for college students, under 25s, full mobility and community service card holders.

Cash users would also have cheaper fares, up to $4 and $2 respectively. Zone three – which covers the Diamond Harbor ferry and buses to the more remote parts of Selwyn – will remain, with fixed fares of $4/$2 for cardholders and $6/$3 for users cash.

If approved, the trial will begin in February 2023.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF

Climate Change Minister James Shaw announces the measures of the emissions reduction plan.

Simon Templeton, chief executive of Age Concern Canterburysaid the new policy would be a “very good move” for the area’s elderly residents.

“We want more people on buses and by limiting for older people the amount of time they can travel, it reduces their ability to travel, perhaps, at times that are convenient for them,” he said. .

“We know loneliness is a really big problem for older people, so anything we can do to break down the barriers to it is fantastic.”

Michael Apathy, of the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion Ōtautahisaid the decision was an “essential step in reducing carbon emissions”.

“Reducing costs is an important step, but we also encourage ECan to make more improvements to the reliability and convenience of public transport, so that even more people switch from using private cars to transport. public.”

Currently, the price for an adult traveling in a zone is $2.65 with a Metrocard or $4.20 in cash. For a child, a zone costs $1.50 with a card and $2.40 in cash.

However, an adult traveling through two bus zones pays significantly more – $3.85 with a Metrocard and $5.70 without.

The government has funded public transport fares at half price until the end of August, so these prices are temporarily halved.

Councilor Vicky Southworth said she was ‘really heartened’ by the increase in use of Christchurch buses since the government’s half-price fares came into effect, and it gave her confidence that their trial would bear fruit.

“[This] will hopefully demonstrate that public transport is for everyone.

Councilor Phil Clearwater said the bidders had made it clear that “climate change and social inequality are both behemoths”, both of which would be addressed by the hybrid option.

But some have argued that more needs to be done to get people in Greater Christchurch onto the buses.

RNZ/Newsroom

Experts say we will need to build sidewalks differently, increase the time traffic lights allow pedestrians to cross, make bus travel more comfortable and offer better protection against elder abuse. (First published October 2019)

Councilor Megan Hands said service improvements were needed as well as fare reductions, saying the council had shown a willingness to ‘go further and faster’ on public transport and cut emissions , but needed more support from the government.

Chair Jenny Hughey said the local government should get enough capital so the whole community can say they are not contributing to carbon emissions.

“This is what we should do in this terrible time… The central government should stand up and pay attention to what we have done here today.”

Councilors also voted to include a range of other public transportation initiatives, including $70,000 in the annual plan to make all trips for SuperGold cardholders free from 9 a.m.

ECan Advisors will vote on the final version of the draft annual plan in June.

George Heard / Stuff

ECan Advisors will vote on the final version of the draft annual plan in June.

Currently, over-65s had to be at the bus interchange and on their way home by 3 p.m., councilor Phil Clearwater said.

“They don’t have the same time as others to socialize.”

Councilor Grant Edge said it was about treating older people like adults rather than children.

However, not all councilors supported this amendment.

Councilor Elizabeth McKenzie said retirees already enjoy significant rate reductions compared to other groups.

According to the latest wellbeing report, older Kiwis had the highest level of wellbeing, she said, while younger people had the lowest.

Jeremy Kilgour, president of the Lincoln University Students’ Association (LUSA)said students “should be able to access education without any financial barriers”, such as getting to and from college.

“While LUSA has offered free bus fares to ECan, we believe cheaper bus fares are a step in the right direction,” he said.

“Many students travel to and from the university via public transport, which is an additional cost for an already limited budget, especially if students are traveling from Christchurch as it passes through two zones, which makes it more expensive.

“Reducing bus fares will not only reduce financial barriers to study, but will also encourage more students to use public transport, especially given rising fuel prices.”

Christchurch mother-of-two and frequent bus user Ngahuia Freed was paying $41.50 a week on fares before the government cut took effect.

“The government’s half-price fares have been a massive incentive for people to take advantage of public transport,” she said.

“If the planned reductions are coverage of $2 per adult and $1 per child, this will represent a savings for us of approximately $9.50 per week. (It’s) not a massive saving, but every little bit counts.

Elna M. Lemons