Greater Wellington Regional Council is about to begin a review of how bus, train and harbour ferry fares are calculated.
Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee, says the review will look at how fares are calculated now and will explore changes and alternatives.
“We’re looking at how fares are set, not the levels or amounts. The last fare structure review, for instance, which was done six years ago, resulted in our current zoning system which bases fares on distance travelled. So we’ll be seeing how well that system is working, whether changes are needed and what those changes might be.
“We’ll also be looking at the mechanisms for paying fares such as cash, tickets and stored value cards. Council’s priority is to move to integrated ticketing, where you pay for all your public transport travel with just the one card. But to get to that step, you need to have electronic ticketing in place so we’ve got some way to go with that, particularly for train travel.”
Discounts for smart cards and multi-trip tickets will also be reviewed; currently Greater Wellington requires operators to give a discount of at least 20 per cent on stored value cards and multi-trip tickets.
“And last, but not least, we’ll be looking at the kinds of concessions that we offer and whether these need to be changed or more added. Currently we have concessions for children, who pay half a standard adult fare, and for some off-peak travel.”
SuperGold card holders get free off-peak travel on public transport but this concession is funded by central government, not Greater Wellington.
“We know that tertiary students, for example, want concessions but there are various ways that concessions can be applied such as for those who travel at off peak versus peak, or for people on low incomes. All the pros and cons need to be explored thoroughly.”
Cr Glensor says the review will be carried out within the constraints of Greater Wellington’s limited transport budget and its farebox recovery policy which requires public transport users, i.e. fare payers, to contribute about 55% of the Council’s public transport costs.
“Some of our main concerns underpinning this review are to make the most of technological improvements with fare mechanisms and to make sure that, as far as possible, people pay their fair share on public transport.”
After the current structure has been reviewed and alternatives explored people will be asked, probably about May next year, for their opinion of some proposed changes.
The review is expected to be completed and changes will begin to be put in place towards the end of 2012.