The Pōneke Collective for Public Transport Equity is calling for Wellingtonians to submit to the Greater Wellington Regional Council Future Fares Review. We have a great opportunity to push the Free Fares campaign, and for a broader goal of more accessible fares for everyone across the Greater Wellington region.
The Pōneke Collective was born last year in response to calls for free public transport for young people and Community Services Card Holders in the Wellington region. It grew to become a national campaign, and our collective now sits aside the nationwide Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity. Members include VUWSA, MAWSA, Generation Zero, FIRST Union, the Public Service Association, Parents for Climate Aotearoa, Chaplaincy VUW and VicLabour.
As a regional group, we support the Free Fares ask and call on central government to fund free fares for under-25’s, tertiary students, Community Services Card holders, Total Mobility card holders and their support people. But, we still believe that there is a role for local government to play in making public transport more accessible and equitable for our community.
The current fare structure is outdated and needs work, so we are excited to see that Greater Wellington Regional Council is reviewing it. This review gives the opportunity for the public to push the Free Fares cause and make sure the new fare structure put in place is future-focused.
What is currently being proposed, however, is confusing and has the potential to overcomplicate the transport system. It is a step in the right direction, but simplicity is key in creating an attractive and efficient public transport network and this proposal is not simple. We see the need for the following changes to be made based on the proposed structure:
The fares need to be easy to understand, so people on low incomes can allocate personal budgets successfully. The current direction of the 35% off peak discount for certain groups has the potential to be confusing and frustrating for the very people it seeks to help;
Fare capping, if implemented, needs to be simple and actually have a maximum cap on the amount a person can spend on public transport in any given day or week. Ideally fare capping would be avoided and fares would be free instead;
There needs to be inclusion of all total mobility services in the proposed discounts. We are disappointed to see total mobility taxi services excluded from this 35% off peak concession, as we feel the benefits of including mobility services in this discount greatly outweigh any costs;
School age children and young people should receive free public transport at all times. We strongly advocate for free public transport for all children regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. This would produce positive benefits for teenagers particularly.
It is incredibly important that the region has equitable, accessible public transport. This starts with fares. We urge Greater Wellington Regional Council to consider our points when finalising the structure, and call on our fellow Wellingtonians to submit alongside us.
The Pōneke Collective looks forward to hearing the results of the consultation, and hopes to see progress to make the fare structure in Wellington more equitable. Kia kaha Pōneke!