Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Fare-free transport crucial to Tamaki Makaurau’s recovery - First Union

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

FIRST Union and the NZPSA have today released a report making the case for fares-free public transport for Tāmaki Makaurau.

The 40-page report draws on lessons from overseas experiences with fare-free public transport, and sets out different models for implementing fare-free public transport in Tāmaki Makaurau, concluding that fare-free public transport represents a sound and viable policy intervention.

The report is authored by New Zealand academic Jen McArthur, an Associate Professor of Urban Infrastructure and Public Policy at University College London.

"With the cost-of-living crisis and rising petrol prices hammering working people, half-price fares resulted in an immediate boost in public transport ridership. Fare-free public transport is a key part of how we alleviate pressure on working class families, and kickstart Tāmaki Makaurau’s recovery from the pandemic," said Louisa Jones, Assistant General Secretary of FIRST Union.

"Driver assaults have been on the rise, and any driver will tell you that the cost of fares is one of the most common factors in driver assaults. For drivers, fare-free public transport means a safer working environment, as well as the mana that comes along with providing a quality public service for the community," added Jones.

FIRST Union is the largest bus driver union in the country, as well as representing tens of thousands of low-income workers from across the private sector.

Author of the report Associate Professor Jen McArthur stated: "This research shows that fare-free public transport is a pragmatic way to address the challenge of urban inequality, meet ambitious emissions targets and attract riders back to public transport after lifting COVID-19 restrictions."

Dr McArthur added: "Going fare-free gives an immediate boost to patronage by taking away financial barriers. Boston’s pilot scheme increased patronage by 23% in one year and improved travel times by reducing the waiting time at stops by 20%. 95% of riders who benefitted from free fares were from ‘transit critical’ populations who are low income, people of colour, seniors, people with disabilities or those limited access to a car."

Dr McArthur also said: "The evidence for the benefits of fare-free public transport is clear, showing that when it is implemented in conjunction with continued investment and service expansion it can dramatically improve access to public transport. The timing is right for Tāmaki Makaurau - it is now up to Aucklanders and politicians to take the debate forward."

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Efeso Collins, who also supported the research, said: "This robust international research shows fares-free public transport is an important and viable policy for Auckland."

Efeso Collins observed: "It demonstrates that we can learn from what's been done overseas to implement a policy that is a triple-win: easing the cost of living, reducing congesting, and being good for the planet."

"Fares-free public transport, alongside improvements to the network and frequency of services, is a key commitment of my campaign to be Mayor and I look forward to further discussions about it on the back of this excellent research," added Collins.

T he report will be launched on Zoom on Monday 27 June at 9am-10am, with Associate Professor Jen McArthur, Efeso Collins, Louisa Jones (FIRST), and Brendon Lane (PSA) speaking.

All articles and comments on have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.