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The mayor and most Dunedin city councillors have backed a national campaign for free fares on public transport for people with a Community Services Card, those aged under 25 and all tertiary education students.
Mr Hawkins said it was a campaign worth supporting because of environmental benefits from people using public transport and the potential to give people better access to city sites. Cr Marie Laufiso said free fares would empower people to participate more fully in society. Councillors voted 10-4 to support the campaign.
Those against were Doug Hall, Mike Lord, Lee Vandervis and Andrew Whiley. Free items always had to be paid for by someone, Cr Vandervis said. Cr Whiley said free fares would not necessarily create a better bus service.
Cr Steve Walker said more people would use bus services if there were free fares.
He said cyclists in the city had increased ‘‘exponentially’’ since infrastructure had been set up for them — a claim contested by Crs Vandervis and Jules Radich.
‘‘Wretched’’ cycleways remained mostly unused, Cr Vandervis said.
Cr Chris Staynes said people needed to be persuaded that getting on a bus was cheaper than taking a car and free fares would remove all doubt.
If the Government chipped in with free fares, the council’s part of the environmental bargain should be to increase the cost of commuter car parking in the city, he said.