Cost of living: Public transport fares in Auckland to rise by 6.5 percent next month

Public transport fares will rise by 6.5 percent from April 2, Auckland Transport (AT) announced on Wednesday.

AT said the fare increase, which is the first in two years, will add no more than 20 cents per journey while half-price fares remain in place.

AT interim chief executive Mark Lambert said the average increase has been kept below inflation and operating cost increases. 

"The cost of operating a bus, train, or ferry service has increased significantly since 2021. However, with multiple COVID-19 lockdowns in that time and an increase in people working from home, the number of people catching public transport and paying fares has also reduced," Lambert said.

"This leaves a significant funding gap, we are seeking extra funding from multiple sources but unfortunately a small percentage of this funding gap has to be covered by customers." 

Historically, an annual fare review is implemented in February each year but because of the disruptions over the last two years, this is the first increase. 

"Given uncertainties regarding the level and duration of the lockdowns and future patronage recovery strategies, there was no fare increase in 2022," he said. 

"In addition, the planned February 2023 fare increase was deferred due to the recent weather events."

Short-distance fares will increase by around 8 percent and longer-distance fares will only increase by up to 3-5 percent, AT said 

The fare increases come amid increasing scrutiny of public transport in Auckland with passengers complaining about delayed and cancelled services. 

Lambert acknowledged it's been a challenging time for public transport customers in Auckland.

"With significant bus driver and ferry crew shortages, along with KiwiRail's Rail Network Rebuild, the level of service has simply not been the same as our customers are used to," he said.

"I want to assure Auckland that we are doing everything possible to get our public transport back on track."

Half-price fares remain in place until June 30.