Sunday, May 19, 2024

Waikato council puts brakes on public transport fare hikes

With Government subsidies for age-based public transport fares due to end on 30 April, Waikato Regional Council has today announced it will maintain current fares until 30 June.

On 1 July 2024, fares for BUSIT and Te Huia services will increase by 20%, the Council confirmed today.

In a statement, the Council said half-price fares on total mobility services and for Community Services Card holders will remain as they were part of the original Community Connect scheme. Card holders can claim the discount by using their registered Bee Card with the Community Connect concession applied. However, free fares for children aged 12 and under and half-price fares for people aged 24 and under will end.

Infants (under 5 years old) still travel for free separate from Community Connect, no Bee Card required. Fares on Hamilton’s on-demand Friday and Saturday night service, Flex, remain unchanged for now at $2 per trip. SuperGold, Community Connect and Accessibility Concessions continue unchanged.

Waikato Regional Council’s manager – public transport, Trudi Knight says operating public transport is more expensive than ever before, but the Council will cover the difference until 1 July to give people time to ensure they still get the most value out of our public transport network.

“At any age, our passengers can secure the best possible value if they use a Bee Card. A registered card with concession loaded captures the Community Connect discount and applies a weekly fare cap for all users,” she said.

The cap kicks in at 6.5 trips for children aged 5-18 years and the adult fare cap will remain at nine trips. All passengers need to do is tag on and off with their Bee Cards and their subsequent trips that week will be free.

Ms Knight says recent passenger numbers have been very pleasing as have Bee Card sales, which means more people can take advantage of the discounts and caps available to them.

Bee Card sales increased by 40% in the last quarter of 2023 and remained strong in the first quarter of this year. Over 12,500 new Bee Cards were purchased through the Transport Centre counter and retail network from January through March. This compares to 6,500 during the same period in 2023. People can also buy Bee Cards online.

Waikato Regional Councillor and Chair of the Regional Transport Committee, Mich’eal Downard says Council understands that fare increases are never welcome but is pleased to delay them for as long as possible.

“We haven’t had a fare increase for some time now so in some ways this is inevitable. I encourage our passengers to use our network as much as possible so caps kick in and they get the best deal,” he said.

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