5,000 signatures reached
To: Minister of Transport, Michael Wood
Now is the moment for free fares
We call on the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, to implement free public transport for Community Service Card holders, full- and part-time tertiary students, and under-25s nationwide.
We want to see this fully funded by central government in Budget 2022 and free fares beginning in 2023.
We also acknowledge the need for this government to reduce fares for all other passengers and to increase the reach, frequency and quality of services in underserved areas.
Why is this important?
New Zealand should be a place where everyone can afford public transport to stay connected, enjoy our regions, and travel in a way that’s kind to the environment.
But with the high cost of public transport, many people can only afford to travel by private car, causing congestion and harmful carbon emissions. Some people don’t travel at all, and their wellbeing and communities suffer as a result.
The solution is for the government to fund free fares for public transport, starting with low-income groups and under-25s.
The case has never been stronger. New Zealand needs to take bold actions to reduce emissions and improve equity; we also need to address rising living costs and pandemic pressures that are pushing people into poverty. Free fares is a solution. Now is the moment!
***Our climate needs free fares.*** 21% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport - 70% of these from cars, SUVs, utes, vans and light trucks.(1) Free fares will help people to switch to public transport, which produces far less emissions per kilometre than private cars.(2) As the Government shapes its Emissions Reduction Plan they need bold ideas. Free fares, with urgent and widespread implementation, is one equitable and courageous action on the scale our climate needs.
***People need free fares.*** The high cost of public transport leaves too many of us disconnected from family, friends and activities that bring us joy. With housing costs and other expenses rising, many Community Service Card holders and tertiary students find that a regular $3 bus ticket is out of reach - and that’s at the very time that we need to promote connection to combat loneliness and poor mental health.
We know from the SuperGold Card (which provides free off-peak, urban travel for senior citizens) that free travel improves wellbeing. More people need free fares.
***Families need free fares.*** Parents will continue to bundle kids into the car as long as cost barriers to public transport remain. Free fares for under-25s will help normalise public transport habits in the next generation, and that will serve us all well.
***Our communities need free fares.*** We all miss out when the cost of fares prevents people traveling. Businesses miss out on customers, community groups lose participants and volunteers and tourist spots miss out on visitors. Free fares will allow more people to make these trips, connecting communities so we are all better off.
***Now is the moment for free fares.*** While the government is committing to take action to reduce emissions and improve equity, now is the time to take this step. We cannot wait for an Auckland trial (Community Connect, giving half-price fares for Community Service Card holders) to run for three years then perhaps be extended nationwide, as the government proposes in the Emissions Reduction Plan discussion document. People and the climate need free fares now! In fact, many of our supporters would like to see free fares for all, but see these groups as a first step.
Sign to urge the Government to take urgent action for the climate and people! Leave a comment to share why free fares are important for you, your friends and whānau.
We will deliver this petition as part of the submission process on the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan. If you would like to make a personal submission go to https://consult.environment.govt.nz/climate/emissions-reduction-plan/. The deadline is 24 November.
After the consultation, we will keep building this petition and deliver it personally to Minister Wood in the leadup to the release of the final Emissions Reduction Plan and Budget 2022.
We are the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity, a coalition of 40+ organisations that share the values of equity, accessibility and community. This group has grown out of the Pōneke Collective, which has been running a similar campaign in Greater Wellington.
Photo credit: Luke Pilkinton-Ching, University of Otago, Wellington.
(1) Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport. 'Clean Cars.' www.transport.govt.nz/area-of-interest/environment-and-climate-change/clean-cars
(2) Per kilometre, a medium-sized petrol car emits 8 times the carbon dioxide of a train, more than 5 times that of a long-distance coach and twice that of a city bus. Electric public transport produces even fewer emissions. Toitū Travel Emissions Calculator. https://calculator.toitu.co.nz/?calculator=travel