Trial of free public transport coming to Wellington

Trial of free public transport coming to Wellington
Photo credit: Getty Images

A trial of free or heavily discounted public transport fares was approved by the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) at a meeting on Thursday.

It's reported the month-long trial will be used to sample new fare structures and these would apply to all bus and train services across Wellington.

News of this trail follows hot on the tails of another GRWC & Metlink trail on the use of the Snapper card on Wellington's Johnsonville line as well as removing cash from some express services.

Wellington wouldn't be the first region to offer free fares for a limited time, Auckland Transport has also offered free fares in the past to help public transport users make it home safer in the days leading up to the Christmas break. 

Metlink's general manager Scott Gallacher said to Stuff the trial would help to prepare for the national integrated ticketing project, a new smartcard for payment for all public transport being developed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Metlink will bring more details back to GWRC in early 2022 where the trail could also be expanded to test other changes. The trial is being jointly funded by GWRC and Waka Kotahi and will be delivered under the National Ticketing Solution.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has been working on a national ticketing system called Project NEXT. The new system would allow Kiwis to pay for public transport with one card wherever they are in the country. 

The current completion date for the rollout of the project across Aotearoa is 2026, with the Canterbury region rollout reportedly starting in late 2022.