ORC approves $2 flat fare for city buses

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The $2 flat fare trial on Dunedin buses has been approved, but with some changes.

The proposal received 1431 public submissions and a hearings panel appointed by the Otago Regional Council heard from 20 submitters last month.

During a full council meeting yesterday, regional councillors agreed the panel’s proposal tomake the child fare $1.20 instead of $1.50, and to lower the fee for forgetting to tag off to $3, instead of $5, in response to the community’s feedback.

But chairman Andrew Noone told councillors he was contacted by Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins the day before the meeting, who was not fully satisfied with the changes made.

The Dunedin City Council made submissions on the flat fare trial proposal and said it wanted to work with the regional council, offering $600,000 to help address ‘‘the inequities the simplified structure has created for children, tertiary students and GoCard Extra users travelling in zone one’’.

Under the new flat fare ticketing, adult fares using a Bee Card will be $2, child fares using a Bee Card will be $1.20, a cash fare (no Bee Card) will be $3, and SuperGold Card holders in Dunedin and Queenstown will travel free at all times.

The previous one zone fare with a GoCard was $1.92 for adults and $1.15 for children, while for two zones it was $2.53 per adult and $1.52 per child.

Mr Noone said Mr Hawkins’ email expressed concerns over the most vulnerable paying more with the new flat fares.

Mr Hawkins was unable to be contacted by the ODT yesterday.

Cr Alex Forbes, who is also the Otago Regional Transport Committee chairwoman, was worried the city council was ‘‘upset’’ and wanted to ensure the regional council worked more closely with it on public transport matters.

But she did not want to take away from the progress made.

“Our community overwhelmingly supported the proposal, but we also heard concerns about the cost to passengers who would normally travel one zone. That’s why we have agreed with the hearing panel recommendation to reduce child fares.’’

Cr Hilary Calvert shared Cr Forbes’ concerns about communication with the city council, but said the hearings panel would have taken the city council’s submission into consideration, and did not want the flat fare trial to be ‘‘derailed’’.

Transport manger Garry Maloney said staff were working with the city council since the flat fare proposal came about.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the flat fare trial which will run from September 1, when the new Bee Card ticketing system goes live in Dunedin, until the end of the year.

The regional council would consider fare structures again later in the year.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

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