Greater Wellington should not raise public transport fares until services are frequent, fast, and reliable, the Green Party said today.
Greater Wellington will increase the cost of taking a bus or train from 1 October 2010, to take account of the rise in GST and to increase revenues from fares. Some cash fares will rise by as much as 100%.
“This is yet another slap-in-the-face for bus and train users coming on top of years of poor service levels,” said Green Party Transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
“The fare rises will send yet more people back into their cars, further congesting our roads, and adding greater costs to our local economy.
“Only when services are fast, frequent, and reliable, and patronage is growing rapidly, would you consider raising fares by this magnitude. No other business would put up prices until service demand was well-established and growing,” said Mr Hughes.
Peak passenger trips on buses, trains, and ferries fell in 2009 by 0.4% or 70,000 trips from 2008 levels.
“Greater Wellington needs to be investing to make bus and train services a high quality alternative to taking the car. Buses and trains can move many more people than cars, at a lower cost. This means less pollution, noise, and, most significantly, less congestion.
“Raising the central city fare from $1 to $2 is particularly stupid. The way to keep cars out of the CBD is to maintain a frequent and affordable alternative. A few more people choosing to drive through town will hold everyone up, including the buses,” Mr Hughes said.
Wellington businesses have been subsidising free parking in the city on the weekend for more than a decade, and this has led to much higher levels of congestion on the weekend.
“We should use some of the money currently subsidising free parking to pay for better public transport services, which have the potential to bring more people into the city for the same amount of money.
“Fast and frequent buses and trains are the way to make Wellington more vibrant and prosperous,” said Mr Hughes.