Auckland Transit Fare Rises Shows Broken Transport Funding System in New Zealand

Minister extremely slow removing main road block to good transit services

Just as Auckland comes back to full power as work, universities and schools all crank up we get the news from Auckland Transport NO ONE wants to hear: the increase of transit fares!

From Auckland Transport:

Changes to public transport fares from Sunday 10 February

21/01/2019 10:05 a.m.

Bus, train and ferry fares will be changing from Sunday 10 February 2019.

By law Auckland Transport reviews fares each year to ensure they keep pace with operating costs and so that the correct portion of costs is recovered from passenger fares.

These reviews have seen customers benefit, in real terms, with the average cost per kilometre on public transport dropping by as much as three percent for adults, 14 percent for tertiary students and 21 percent for children since 2015.

As part of the work on the annual fare review for 2019, Auckland Transport has also been looking at how it can support the shift from travel in cars to travel on public transport and active modes.

AT Chief Executive Shane Ellison says, “We would like to have been in position to not increase fares in 2019. Over the past three months we have been exploring means of funding any cost gap that could be created by not increasing fares.”

“Public transport is paid for through passenger fares and subsidies from Auckland Council and NZ Transport Agency. Unfortunately, a small fare increase is needed as any additional revenue generated by new growth resulting from holding fares at current levels is insufficient to meet the costs of providing public transport services without further funding being available.”

“We see fares as an important ingredient to getting more people out of cars and into public transport and so we will continue to look at ways we can further reduce the real cost of public transport for our customers in the coming years.”

Last year new bus networks have been rolled out in the central suburbs and the North Shore, more than 500,000 Aucklanders now live within 500 metres of a frequent service, which runs at least every 15 minutes, all day every day.  In addition, AT introduced more rail services on weekends, and we also put on more capacity on some ferry services to destinations such as Hobsonville.

“Operating a public transport system in a growing city like Auckland means that the costs do increase as we put on more services. It’s a balance for AT to provide an extensive public transport system that has enough capacity for a growing city, but we also know that cost is a major factor in how people travel, so we’ve found efficiencies in order to keep the fare increase at an average of 1.9%. This is well below the inflationary pressures associated with providing public transport.” says Shane Ellison.

In the year to the end of November, 95.6 million trips were taken on public transport in Auckland, an increase of 5.2 percent on the year before.

Bus and train fares

  • No changes to AT HOP Bus and train All Zones monthly pass.
Adult fares
1 zoneNo change
+5 cents to $1.95
2 zonesNo change+15 cents to $3.45
3 zones+50 cents to $7.50+10 cents to $4.90
4 zonesNo change+10 cents to $6.30
5 zones+50 cents to $10.50+10 cents to $7.60
6 zones+10 cents to $8.90
7 zones-10 cents to $10
8 zones-10 cents to $11.10
9 zonesNo change
Child fares
  • No change to child weekend AT HOP fare.
1 zone+6 cents to $1.05
2 zones+11 cents to $2.05
3 zones+20 cents to $2.90
4 zones+10 cents to $3.70
5 zonesNo change
6 zones+5 cents to $5.15
7 zonesNo change
8 zonesNo change
9 zonesNo change
1 zone+10 cents to $1.50
2 zones+15 cents to $2.60
3 zonesNo change
4 zones+20 cents to $4.90
5 zones+5 cents to $5.85
6 zones+15 cents to $6.85
7 zones+20 cents to $7.70
8 zones+20 cents to $8.40
9 zonesNo change

Source: Auckland Transport

So we are looking at fare rises of 6% in some cases with Adult 1 and 4 zones, all Children and all Tertiary fares taking the worst of increases, the very groups that can ill-afford it especially in South and West Auckland.

While Auckland Transport has the surplus to answer for (see Tweet below) the primary blame sits with NZTA for not granting increased funding to keep our world-high fares down and with Transport Minister Phil Twyford for not removing the arcane Farebox Recovery Ratio set by National (Steven Joyce) on what is a public good.

It is 2019 and still has not happened

Just as we try and get the uptake of transit to increase in Auckland we have Auckland Transport, NZTA and the Minister doing the opposite (Minister sets policy). Given our fares are already some of the highest in the world and our transit product for rail is inferior (no all day frequencies of 10-15 minutes) a further increase like this will do patronage not much good at all.

So come on Minister Twyford, we have been a bit too silent on Farebox Recovery and why it has not been removed.

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