Catching a bus in the Horizons Region is about to get cheaper, with the introduction of a new fare structure which rewards people the more they use public transport.
Horizons Regional Council manager transport services Mark Read says all fares on Connect services will move to a zone structure from 1 January 2024.
“Instead of different prices for each service, the price will be based on how far people travel. A trip within a single zone will cost the same no matter where you live, with the price then increasing at a consistent rate as you travel through zones.
“A one-zone trip will cost $2 for an adult using a Bee Card, then go up $1.50 per extra zone travelled through. This simplifies the pricing for people and makes fares more affordable for Bee Card users.
“This does make cash fares slightly more expensive for people doing one-zone trips, which includes the urban networks in Palmerston North and Whanganui. Drivers will be taking an educational approach until January 15, letting people pay the current lower cash fare if they are have not brought the right change for the new fares.”
The fare capping aspect of the new fare structure means people paying with a registered Bee Card will get free buses after taking a certain number of trips in a zone each week, Mr Read says.
“The more you ride Connect services, the more free trips you get each week.
“For example, someone commuting to and from work in Whanganui will spend a maximum of $16 per week, with trips free from Thursday evening – something especially helpful if that person want to use the late-night Te Ngaru The Tide service on Fridays to meet people after work.
“The capping scales to acknowledge people travelling longer distances. Someone travelling between Feilding and Palmerston North each day – a two-zone trip – will only need to take seven trips before hitting the cap.
“If you hit your cap for bigger trips – like the Feilding-Palmerston North example – your cap automatically applies for smaller trips. So, a student commuting from Whanganui to Palmerston North (a four-zone trip) will get free travel on the Palmerston North and Whanganui urban services from Wednesday evening each week.
“You must pay with a registered Bee Card to access fare capping, as it ensures your trips are accurately recorded each week. This also allows us to apply fare capping to concession fares.
“You can still pay for other people’s fares with your Bee Card, but only your trips will count towards the fare cap.”
Since the Bee Card is a key tool to access fare capping, Horizons is making it easier than usual to get one until the end of February, Mr Read says.
“We will have free Bee Cards at Horizons’ offices in Palmerston North and Whanganui, as well as on buses. We will also be giving them away at events, such as weekend markets.
“You can also order a Bee Card online at beecard.co.nz, although there is a cost when ordering online. That same website is where you can register your card and take advantage of functions like topping up online, having one account to manage multiple cards – handy for a family of bus users with their own cards – and set up an Auto Top Up to ensure you always have enough funds to travel.
“The Bee Card can also be used at various locations across the country, including the neighbouring Taranaki, Waikato and Hawke’s Bay regions, so it will come in handy if you are travelling outside of the Horizons Region.
For more information about the new fare structure, see www.horizons.govt.nz/buses-transport/new-fare-structure.
For more information about the Bee Card, see www.horizons.govt.nz/buses-transport/bee-card.