Greater Wellington has made a windfall of almost a million dollars over recent months, mostly due to lower payments ($693,000) to diesel bus operators, and this saving is forecast to continue until oil increases in price again. The 3 month income statement to 30th September shows a variable variance of $929,000(item 13: http://www.gw.govt.nz/section1159.cfm?MeetingID=6650)
This windfall can be used to extend off peak discounted fares to all services. Rail commuters get a 30% discount between 9am and 3pm….now is the time to extend the discount to bus services and to weekends. People choosing to travel off peak decreased pressure at times when there is over crowding. This increased the efficiency of the network overall and could reduce the need for fare rises in the coming years. The fare structure can be a tool to encourage patronage on under-utilised public transport services and at the same increase profitability. What about some free services
Get around Auckland city on the free red City Circuit bus…
and Christchurch’s free CBD shuttle operated by hybrid buses
Adelaide – a free shuttle bus in the CBD plus the CBD section of the newly-extended tram line is free. A shuttle tram service in the CBD section is operated to augment the long-distance trams to Glenelg.
Portland, OR: a ‘fareless square’ for streetcar, MAX light rail and buses applies in the CBD
Dallas TX – the McKinney Avenue streetcar (tram) operates a variety of heritage cars on the CBD fringe as a free service supported by local businesses and the regional transit authority (DART) and is being extended.
Free or zero-fare public transport services are funded in full by means other than collecting a fare from passengers, normally through heavy subsidies or commercial sponsorship by businesses. Several mid-size European cities and many smaller towns around the world have converted their entire bus networks to zero-fare. Local zero-fare shuttles or inner-city loops are far more common than city-wide systems….see more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-fare_public_transport
Greater Wellington is investing in real time information and integrated ticketing in the coming years increasing costs further, but this investment should increase reliability making catching public transport a more attractive proposition to everyone.
Greater Wellington must also be conscious of the need to keep public transport affordable for the transport disadvantaged through targeted concession fares.