Free Fares Campaign Calls For Government Investment In Public Transport This Budget – Free Fares NZ

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The Free Fares campaign is calling for the Government to invest in public transport in Budget 2024. Backed by a coalition of over one hundred organisations including Local Government, unions, students associations, welfare and climate advocacy organisations, the campaign advocates for free public transport for four target groups, and half price fares for everyone. They recently opposed the removal of public transport discounts for children and young people.

Spokesperson Mika Hervel says “Free public transport is an obvious choice to support people with cost of living, decrease emissions, and improve public health and economic productivity. We know that reducing fares increases public transport ridership, which reduces air pollution and traffic congestion, and increases productivity. If the Government is looking for economic efficiency in the way that it prioritises funds this Budget, improving access to public transport is one of its best options in terms of per-dollar investment.”

Investment into affordable public transport is a key way to support vulnerable communities as they face cost of living pressures. Transport is an especially significant budgetary stressor for people on low incomes. The lowest-income 20% of New Zealanders spend nearly 20% of their income on transport, compared to the top 20% who spend 7.6% of income.

A parent from Lower Hutt says “Public transport fares have a big impact on my family as two of my children go to high school by bus and my son goes to university by bus and train. [The removal of youth discounts] is very shortsighted for a government that claims to want to encourage people to go to school to get an education.”

Another campaign supporter shares “This policy provided huge cost relief for many families, especially those who are struggling, my extended family being no exception. If this government is truely focused on the ‘cost of living crisis’ they would reinstate this discount. It’s shameful to have abolished it at a time when so many costs are being added to a household budget. It’s a relatively cheap social policy for the benefits to society in general.”

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Fairer Future’s report, “A Thousand Cuts”, released on Wednesday morning, highlights the cumulative impacts of the loss of public transport discounts alongside other policy changes. This report breaks down increased costs that people in different scenarios face due to this Government’s decisions, for example:

A university student from a large family faces higher costs of $115.22 a week and $4990.25 a year.

A sole parent on minimum wage who has a child with a disability and uses public transport faces higher costs in Auckland of $128.15 a week, and $5,742.88 a year, and even higher costs in Christchurch and Auckland.

Hana Pilkinton-Ching, Victoria University of Wellington Students Association Vice-President says “If the Government is serious about increasing access to education, employment, and improving health outcomes across the board, then we will see a significant increase in investment in public transport this Budget and restoration of the public transport discounts for children and young people.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Free is not free as someone has to pay and free is often not respected. Free also means it attracts undesirable people so late night travel can be dangerous.

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