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Possible off-peak fares for all Metlink bus, train and harbour ferry services, fewer fare zones and more flexible smartcard features are some of the options that people will be asked for feedback on later this year as part of Greater Wellington’s public transport fare structure review.
The fare structure review looks at how fares are calculated, the methods for paying them and fare concessions or discounts. This is the first such review in six years and is separate from the annual review of fare prices.
Councillors have endorsed a range of fare options that will be further developed before going out to public consultation later this year.
Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee, says one of the options being considered is having off-peak fares for all services. “At present, there are some off peak fares, mainly for train travel. We’ll be asking people what they think about extending this discount to all off-peak services.”
The review also considers changes to the distance-based zoning system on which all Metlink bus, train and harbour ferry fares are calculated. “One idea is to charge fares on a ‘point to point basis’ using smart cards which can very accurately charge for the actual distance travelled. If we went with this option, charging by zones would be used only for cash fares.”
People will be asked if the current 14 zones could be reduced to seven or five. “This would be simpler and easier for people to understand but we’ve got to make sure that it’s a fair system as well.”
Other options for smart or stored value cards are also being developed. “Cards are a way of life for the vast majority of regular bus users and we’re looking at the payment options that could be built into these cards which would give people more flexibility. For example, the cards could charge for the nine or ten most expensive trips you make each week and all other trips could be heavily discounted or free.”
Cr Glensor says the review was focused on integrating the whole regional public transport network. “Our vision is that a person could travel from Wainuiomata to Miramar on a train and two different buses but pay just one fare for the trip.”
Greater Wellington will seek feedback around August on a range of options. Following this, a single preferred option for a new fare structure will be developed and that will go out for consultation early in 2013. The final package is expected to be presented to Council for approval around May 2013. Implementation of the changes will be gradual and will depend on progress with other projects such as integrated electronic ticketing.