How does an extra $27/week sound? Fares Free Policy Offers (Potential) “Tax” Cut to Living Costs (Transport)

Free Fares Might Help ease cost of living in Auckland

Fares Free Public Transport? Does it work and how much could a regular or even non frequent user of Public Transport save from the Fares Free Policy?

Train at Manukau Station

From Mayoral Candidate Efeso Collins:

Fares-Free Public Transport Will Put $27 a Week in People’s Back Pockets

New research shows that Mayoral candidate Efeso Collins’ flagship fare-free public transport policy could save around $27 a week for people using public transport regularly, and around $8 a week for less frequent users of public transport.

The current price of an AT HOP card monthly pass is $107.50 for half-price fares. Fares-free public transport will save a regular public transport user relying on a monthly pass $1290 a year, or $26.88 a week (not counting the $10 cost of purchasing a HOP card).

If public transport fares return to full price on 31 January 2023, as has been announced, fares-free public transport could save a regular public transport user relying on a monthly pass $2580 a year, or $53.80 a week.

For a less frequent public transport user making two return two-zone trips a week at $1.95 per trip, fares-free would save a person $7.80 a week, rising to $15.60 when full-price fares return in January 2023. This amounts to savings for less frequent public transport users of $31.20 a month (rising to $62.40 when full-price fares return), and $405.60 a year.

Latest AT data shows a total of almost 42 million (41,218,943) boardings for the twelve months to June 2022; all of these boardings would be fares-free under the new policy.

Mayoral candidate Efeso Collins says, “Fares-free public transport tackles the cost of living by giving people more money each week, as costs rise across the board.”

Collins adds: “Fares-free is good for our climate, our congestion, and our city centres – but most of all it’s good for people, and easing some of the cost burdens that communities face as housing and food costs increase.”

Collins notes: “Council has the power to remove fares in this way, and it’s a simple and affordable step we can take to give people the financial support people need right now. I expect more people will use public transport as a result of this step, and benefit from this reduced cost.”

An earlier poll showed 73% of Aucklanders support fares-free public transport, including 63% of National and ACT voters.

 A report published in June by Associate Professor Jen McArthur from University College London, commissioned by FIRST and PSA unions, showed that international case studies demonstrate that fares-free policies can accelerate a mode shift.

 A 2021 report by the Helen Clark Foundation, Te Ara Matatika: The Fair Path, had previously reported that in 2019 households in the lowest income quintile spend 28% of their household budget on transport.

The research produced by the Efeso Collins campaign team draws on publicly available data about existing public transport costs in Auckland.

Savings Matrix

Regular Public Transport User
HOP card monthly pass (half-price)Hop card monthly pass (full price)
Savings from fares-free – whole year (half-price)Savings from fares-free – whole year (full-price)
Savings from fares-free weekly (half-price)Savings from fares-free weekly (full price)
Less Frequent Public Transport User
Two-zone trip at half-priceTwo zone trip at full price
4 two-zone trips a week half price4 two-zone trips a week full price
Less frequent PT user savings monthly (half-price)Less frequent PT user savings monthly (full price)
Less frequent PT user savings per year (half-price)Less frequent PT user savings per year (full price)
How much Fares Free can save you

Whether Fares Free (or basically Free Public Transport) works in getting more people onto public transport and out of their cars or cannibalises Active Modes instead is a hotly debated topic around the world with arguements going both ways (or even non conclusive as of yet).

None the less with energy costs continuing to rise, $27/week extra in the back pocket is definitely worth more than say $2/week from National’s tax cut policy.

Fares Free: A real tax cut indeed!