TRANSPORT

Three year hiatus holding public transport fares in Auckland ends

Wednesday 10 February 2010, 5:55PM
By Auckland Regional Transport Authority
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AUCKLAND

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) announced today that the three year hiatus holding public transport fares in Auckland would end on 21 February this year.

ARTA’s Chief Executive, Fergus Gammie said, ”ARTA and its operators have held public transport fares in Auckland for three years in an environment in which other centres in New Zealand have increased their fares to recoup costs. Fares have been held to encourage transport patronage in Auckland and also in acknowledgement of difficult economic times.

“However, over the last three years the costs associated with running transport fleets have increased by around 11%. For example changing emission standards requiring improved vehicles and increased labour costs have been absorbed by our operators for a long period now, therefore bus, train and some ferry fares will increase from Sunday 21 February to help recoup these costs and hold service levels for our customers”.

Mr Gammie said, “In respect of the increases, public transport in Auckland operates in a public private partnership. This means that ARTA sets some fare types while commercial operators set others because they manage the cost and revenue risk as private companies.

“Price increases have been spread across ticket types. Our customer research shows us that conservatively 63% of our customers purchase single, ten trip tickets and multi-pass rail fares, hence the lowest fare increases have been made for the bulk of our customer’s purchases while slightly higher increases have been made by some of our commercial operators for their already heavily discounted bus and ferry multi-trip passes.

“From 21 February bus fares for single and ten trip tickets will increase between 2 to 3 per cent and rail fare increases on average between 5 to 7 per cent. At the lower end of single ticket fares, there are some increases above 3 per cent on bus and above 7 per cent on rail due to the minimum possible price increment of ten cents.

“The level of fare increase is decided upon by considering a number of factors in addition to the increase in costs for operators such as, revenue increases due to patronage growth and the consumer price index.”

Mr Gammie said, “Rail fares have been increased more than single and ten trip bus tickets for a number of reasons. Historically rail fares in Auckland have sat lower than bus fares however significant improvements have now been made by ARTA to Auckland’s commuter rail services. These include fifteen minute train frequency at peak times with ten minute frequencies on the horizon; and major improvements in infrastructure with over twenty train stations on the network upgraded including the new Newmarket train station and more to come this year with the reopening of the Onehunga Branch Line, then opening of Grafton and New Lynn stations and a new Avondale station and electrification on its way.

“Independently from these increases some multi- use concession passes will be increased in price by bus operators and some ferry operators. These passes have always been heavily discounted by operators and even with fare increases a significant level of discount, often up to 40%, remains, making these passes a great value for money choice. Bus and ferry customers need to check the MAXX website or their operator’s websites and pricing accordingly”.

Mr Gammie said, “In the majority of cases, public transport continues to offer very good value for money, let alone the peace of not sitting for over an hour in some instances, in bumper to bumper traffic.

“More public transport users mean less congestion and faster travel times on the roads for those who have to use their cars for a variety of reasons and also benefit the more efficient movement of freight which in turn brings greater economic benefit for Auckland and New Zealand.

“In respect of fare changes, at the far end of the rail network, the change translates into a thirty cent increase from $6.30 to $6.60 from Papakura to the CBD.

“Travelling from Papakura to the CBD on a weekly basis, the weekly cost of running a car comes in at $142 per week against $66 for using the train. This is a weekly savings of $76 and an annual saving of $3,648 which is fairly substantial.

“If we look at car versus bus travel from Highbury on the North Shore to Britomart on a weekly basis, travelling by bus saves $24 a week with car travel costing $57 a week including a conservative $8.00 per day for parking. Annual savings by using public transport, in this instance are $1157.

Mr Gammie says, “Over the past five years it is also fair to say that good progress has been made in working towards giving Auckland the level of public transport services a city of this size should have. Such improvements, as with any benefits, cost. We continue to appreciate the support our customers and our funders give us”.

Full details of the new fare structure which comes into effect on 21 February can be found on the MAXX website maxx.co.nz from Thursday 11 February.

*(Source: AA website: costs include petrol, parking and fixed vehicle costs based on a single occupancy vehicle).