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Extra Funding For Supergold Card Transport

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government is putting an extra $9 million towards the SuperGold card public transport scheme as part of a balanced package of measures that will improve efficiency and help ensure the scheme's long-term viability, Transport Minister Steven Joyce says.

"The Government is committed to retaining the SuperGold card free off-peak travel scheme including the transport concession as it stands. Users will continue to enjoy the same benefits they receive now," says Mr Joyce.

"The Government will put an extra $9 million into the scheme over the next two years to ensure it can keep up with growing demand - taking total Government funding for the scheme to $45 million over the next two years.

"However we are also seeking greater administrative efficiency from central government and councils to ensure taxpayers get proper value for money and users get the best possible services out of this funding.

"In addition we've set transport operator subsidies at a level that better reflects the benefits that flow to operators from the growing number of seniors using free off-peak public transport.

"We believe these changes strike a balance and will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the scheme in the years to come."

At the time the scheme was set up in 2008 it was agreed that a review would be undertaken after 12 months to ensure the scheme's ongoing viability. Transport officials have been discussing changes with regional councils and operators and are now in the process of amending existing agreements.

Changes to the scheme comprise:

Regional councils and operators will be reimbursed at 65 percent of the average adult fare for the next two financial years 2010/11 - 2011/2012 (currently 75 percent). Regional councils absorb administration costs so funding can be redirected to the travel concessions. The NZ Transport Agency's budget for administering the scheme will be significantly reduced. A moratorium will be placed on major new services entering the scheme for the next two financial years.

The new reimbursement rate is subject to a hardship clause.

"Where operators can provide evidence that they would not be able to continue to offer services to SuperGold card holders at a 65 percent reimbursement rate they can apply for a higher rate for these specific services - up to the original 75 percent.

"The Government has made it clear we don't expect operators to profit from the scheme, but neither do we expect them to be out of pocket."

Mr Joyce says the review process demonstrated the scheme is very popular with users and is providing improved mobility for older people.

"All those involved in the review have made it clear they want the scheme to be retained. My desired outcome is that operators, councils and ultimately SuperGold card holders all have certainty for the future," Mr Joyce says.

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