Calls for free public transport to help combat climate crisis

Calls for free public transport to help combat climate crisis
Photo credit: Newshub

A nationwide coalition of over 40 organisations is calling on Minister of Transport Michael Wood to implement free public transport for select groups nationwide.

The Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity, which launched a petition on Tuesday morning, wants free public transport for Community Services Card (CSC) holders, tertiary students, and those under-25 as part of the Government's Emissions Reduction Plan. This would be funded within Budget 2022 with free fares set to begin in 2023.

The group says the high cost of public transport means many people can only afford to travel by private car, adding free fares for under-25s would help normalise public transport habits in the next generation.

"Reliable, regular, free or low-cost fares would... help families be less car reliant," says national coordinator for Parents for Climate Aotearoa Alicia Hall.

An Auckland CSC holder says: "Having free bus fares would allow me to save the money for healthy groceries, and basic expenses."

Auckland Transport (AT) has been offering free weekend fares to those under 15 since 2019 and estimates it to cost around $623,000 in lost revenue each year. AT also estimated that a plan to phase in everyday free travel over five years for under-15s would eventually cost $21 million in lost revenue.

Currently AT is working on a proposal for a trial to give a 50 percent subsidy on public transport services for people holding CSC cards which it hopes to have in place by 2022. AT also offers discounted fares for secondary students and for tertiary students as well as discounts for those travelling off-peak.

Those who would like to sign the petition can follow this link.