CBD bus fares going up by 50 cents

Wellington.Scoop
The Regional Council seems to be embarrassed by its plan to increase the price of cash bus fares in the Wellington CBD.

The official announcement on February 14 highlighted only “a small increase in non-cash fares.” But in the sixth paragraph of the media release, the council confessed to its plan for a much bigger increase – a staff recommendation of a 50 cent increase in adult cash fares for zones 1 (inner city), and also for zones 7 (between Wellington and Pukerua Bay, Upper Hutt), 10 (Waikanae), 13 (Otaki, Carterton) and 14 (Masterton).

A majority of councillors voted to support what the staff recommended. Only four voted against the fare increase – Sue Kedgley, Nigel Wilson, Gary McPhee and Paul Bruce, whose speech is here.

The council’s general manager of public transport Wayne Hastie says the “significant” increase to zone 1 cash fares will be the first since 2010. He gives examples of zone 1 trips: from Wellington Station to Courtenay Place, from Porirua Station to Porirua CBD, or from Waterloo Station to Queensgate.

He also talks about the need to preserve the competitive position of Snapper payments.

“Operators prefer cash fare increases to be rounded to the nearest 50 cents for cash handling purposes … If we don’t increase zone 1 cash fares, the smart card discount would be less than 20% – our policy is for smart cards to provide a minimum 20% discount on cash fares. It’s a much better option to use a smart card or 10-trip ticket.”

Here is the council’s February 14 announcement in full.

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council – February 14
A small increase in most non-cash fares for bus, train and harbour ferry services is being recommended by Greater Wellington Regional Council officers.

Council policy is to review fares annually. Any decision by the Council to proceed with a fare increase will be consulted on publicly in April as part of the draft Annual Plan process.

A report to the Council’s Policy and Strategy Committee meeting next Tuesday (18 February) recommends that most non-cash fares increase by 1% from 1 October 2014. For example, a 10-trip ticket to Waterloo would increase from $40.80 to $41.20, a bus trip from Wellington Station to Miramar, using Snapper, would increase to $3.67 from $3.63 and a monthly rail pass to Waikanae would increase to $301.80 from $298.80.

“An increase in fare revenue would help offset costs of providing public transport services which usually increase each year, says Wayne Hastie, the Regional Council’s General Manager, Public Transport. “Bus running costs, for instance, rose by about 1.7% in the last year and 3.5% the year before. Also we’re required to ensure that fares contribute around 55% to direct costs so the increase would keep us within that ratio.”

The recommended fare increase is in line with the Council’s five-year programme, adopted in 2012. “Increasing most smart card fares by a small percentage each year and increasing cash fares in different zones each year helps ensure evenness and fairness for fare payers throughout the region. It avoids the nasty shock of a huge increase every four or five years.”

Along with the 1% increase in most non-cash fares, officers recommend a 50 cent increase in adult cash fares for zones 1 (inner city), 7 (between Wellington and Pukerua Bay, Upper Hutt), 10 (Waikanae), 13 (Otaki, Carterton) and 14 (Masterton).

Dr Hastie says the increase to zone 1 cash fares would be the first since 2010. Examples of zone 1 trips are from Wellington Station to Courtenay Place, from Porirua Station to Porirua CBD, or from Waterloo Station to Queensgate.

“Operators prefer cash fare increases to be rounded to the nearest 50 cents for cash handling purposes, so this increase to zone 1 fares would be significant.

“However if we don’t increase zone 1 cash fares, the smart card discount would be less than 20% – our policy is for smart cards to provide a minimum 20% discount on cash fares. “It’s a much better option to use a smart card or 10-trip ticket.”

The arguments against raising bus fares

 

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