NZ’s fare hike proposal

Significant fare increase proposed for bus users to cover funding shortfall in Canterbury

Bus fares in New Zealand’s third-largest city are likely to increase to cover a $1.35 million funding shortfall due to falling bus patronage.

Environment Canterbury’s (Ecan) 2016-17 Annual Plan proposes a rise in fares of about 10 percent from July this year, which would increase the average bus fare from $2.50 to $2.75 for a journey within Christchurch’s city limits.

"The slow rate of central city redevelopment has had an impact on our expected patronage targets," the plan reads.

"A drop in patronage is occurring elsewhere in New Zealand and our fare structure remains one of the lowest in the country."

Christchurch’s public transport network was overhauled recently, with the introduction of five high-frequency lines, to help reduce the number of buses travelling through the CBD and increase the efficiency of the network late last year, but this has failed to boost passenger numbers so far.

Increasing fares is seen as fairer that increasing everyone’s rates, with a user-pays system preferred since not everyone uses the bus network.

"Environment Canterbury needs to strike an appropriate balance between what is funded from rates and what is funded through fares.

"We still plan to work with businesses relocating to the central city to encourage greater use of public transport and this offers a huge opportunity in the coming years as the city rebuilds."

Ecan is hopeful the gradual return of office workers into the CBD, the introduction of real-time bus tracking information and an updated electronic ticketing system will help increase patronage as the city is rebuilt after Christchurch’s CBD was badly damaged in an earthquake in 2011.

A final decision on the rate of bus fare increases will be made following a period of public consultation, prior to the adoption of the plan in July this year.

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