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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Price hike in-train for Wairarapa commuters

Commuters from Wairarapa to Wellington are set to pay up to $16 more per week for their daily commute after the Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] unanimously voted to increase public transport fares by 10 per cent starting from July 1.

The Annual Fares Review recommended an increase of at least 10 per cent to keep up with inflation costs and partially cover public transport costs that are expected to rise by 19 per cent over the coming financial year.

GWRC chair Daran Ponter said that “inflation and escalating expenses backdrop the stark decision faced by councillors”.

The increase will be the highest fare hike in the past 10 years after rises of six per cent in 2023 and 1.5 per cent in 2021.

Ponter said that GWRC, like all councils, is stuck between a “financial rock and a fiscal hard place”.

“We’d never consider an increase of this size if we weren’t also faced with tough choices about raising rates and cutting spending in this year’s Long Term Plan.”

Fares cover about a third of public transport costs, with central government and the regional council picking up the remaining two-thirds.

Fare revenue in the 2024/25 financial year is expected to reach $96 million and will account for approximately 24 per cent of the total operating revenue budgeted.

Metlink estimates that without the 10 per cent fare increase, rates would need to rise by 3.3 per cent.

GWRC transport committee chair Thomas Nash said recent cost of living pressures have meant the council deliberately kept fare increases as low as possible, “but the cost of public transport has gone up significantly while fares have not”.

“Given the effects of inflation on the cost of driving a car, a ten per cent fare increase would still leave public transport journeys competitively priced compared to using private vehicles, once you take into account fuel, parking, insurance, and maintenance costs.”

Nash said without significant funding from central government, the only alternative to increasing fares would be to let the network decline.

The fare increase means that a journey from Masterton to Wellington will result in commuters forking out an extra $1.60 per trip on average.

Younger commuters who had previously been eligible for aged-based concessions on public transport will feel the impact of the fare increase more keenly, with some facing an increased fare price of almost 120 per cent.

That’s because central government funding for reduced public transport fares – which provided free travel for people aged 13 and under and half-price fares for 13- to 24-year-olds – ends on April 30.

The maximum charge for a person under the age of 13 will increase from $0 to $8.78, while somebody between 13 and 24 who previously had a maximum fare charge of $7.98 will be charged $17.55.

Councillors from GWRC expressed concern over public transport drivers facing the brunt of public discontent over fare increases as ending the concessions was a decision from central government and out of the control of GWRC.

A communications campaign is currently in development to advise of the incoming increases.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This would be easier to stomach if the service actually functioned. With further track or carriage work required the service will remain slow for many months. Masterton commuters are regularly spending more than 20 hours a week, just travelling to and from work.

  2. You would think
    The money coming from the young people would cover the downfall
    Clearly the council is ripping us off again

Comments are closed.

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