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Half-price public transport to end

The government’s decision to end half-price public transport has left Wairarapa commuters and organisations angry and upset.

Introduced in April to help people with the cost of living crisis, half-price transport is set to be scrapped on March 31 2023.

It had been due to end on February 1 2023, but was extended an additional two months.

For Wairarapa, the ending of the programme would see some commuters spending thousands more dollars every year, with the most expensive pass, an adult 14-zone pass, doubling to $451.20 a month. A 14-zone pass would be needed to travel from Masterton to Wellington city.

The Green Party has called for the program to be made permanent, with Green Party spokesperson Julie Anne Genter saying the party would continue to prioritise affordable public transport for everyone.

“The very least the government should do is make public transport fares half price, for everyone, for good.

“Affordable public transport is fundamental to our quality of life, for cutting climate population, connecting our communities, and making our cities more liveable.

“The government has shown how easy it is to extend half-price public transport fares. There is no reason why affordable fares cannot be made permanent.”

The Green Party said when it was first announced, that half-price fares were expected to cost between $25m-$40 million for three months, meaning it would cost between $100m-$160m per year.

This would be about 3.75 per cent of New Zealand’s total transport budget for the 2022-23 year.

However, half-price fares have been made permanent for all Community Services Card [CSC] holders.

CSC holders would be able to register their cards with Snapper to apply the discount whenever they use their Snapper cards automatically.

One commuter spoken to by Times-Age called the full-price fares “utterly ridiculous”.

“There will be pressure on the government to extend it. If enough people pressure the government they will surely do it. So many people find it difficult to afford transport.”

They said the half-price fares had “certainly been a big help”.

Another commuter called half-price fares an “excellent idea”.

“It means young families and older family members can all get together – it means the grandkids can come up and stay with me.

“Lots of positives.”

Although they said half-price fares were making a “very positive” difference in their life, they questioned the cost.

“How long can we physically afford to maintain it?”

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George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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