At the beginning of April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced half-price fares on public transport for three months.
This policy comes as inflation in Aotearoa reaches its highest level in 30 years at 6.9%. According to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures, petrol prices have increased 32% compared to this time last year, the largest annual increase since the June 1985 quarter. Oversized blazers and mullets aren’t the only 80s trends making a comeback in 2022.
The Green Party of Aotearoa, organisations like the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity have called for the Government to go further, recently launching a petition to make public transport fares free for everyone. The Government has said further announcements on affordable public transport will be made as part of the 2022 budget.
With classes returning in person, Craccum asked students what mode of transport they will use to get to and from campus and whether public transport incentives, rising petrol costs, sustainability, or something else motivated their decision. They also weighed in on the free-fares debate and whether measures to make public transport more affordable have helped them.
Atelina: is feeling less stressed about topping up
“I take the bus and it (half-price fares) has made a huge difference. I’ve gone from topping up $40 a week to just $20. I’ve saved a bit of money that I can use for other things, and I don’t have to stress about topping up all the time. I think it should stay at half-price, but free would be nice.”
Qistina: says affordable public transport is essential to help students get to campus
It’s so much easier to use the bus to get to the city from where I live, and driving isn’t ideal since the city is such a busy place. As uni students, we base our expenses on not only personal but uni life as well and having public transport costs cut in half makes a lot of difference. We don’t have to think about having enough money just to go to uni.
“If they could keep the half-price going, it would really help students because many don’t have the luxury to get a job while studying because they’re here full-time. Money-wise, it’s hard for students to get to campus.”
Liam: will catch a lift with Mum when possible
“I’m lucky that my mum works in town and can transport me back and forth most days. As we go back to uni, I’ll probably be taking the train more often. But I’d rather wait around a few hours at mum’s work until I can go home with her. It’s more of an incentive to take public transport now than having to pay full-price, but I mostly prioritise convenience above all else, and public transport isn’t super convenient. Sometimes it’s not worth the few dollars you save for the time it takes.”
“The wider community effects it (free public transport) would have extends beyond me. It would be much better for the environment to make public transport more accessible and useable. In other countries I’ve visited like Germany their public transport system is so easy. The interior of the trains were also really nice. It’s the most Gen-Z thing in the world, but it was a really good vibe.”
Sophia: Auckland Transport regular
“It’s (half-price fares) not that big of a difference for me because I was going to take the bus anyway. But it’s nice I guess. I come in for lectures every day, so It does add up.”
Yang: takes two buses to get to campus
“I loved the half-price fares when I first heard about it since I take the bus quite often. I got to the Epsom Campus, so I have to take two buses, and it’s quite costly. I would take the bus less often when it’s full-price, and if it gets higher, I will probably get my restricted ASAP.”
Naomii: recent grad
“Personally, my fare went from $8 to $4 a day so that’s still $20 a week if I was to take public transport every day, which is probably the same as or more than my petrol costs. It takes me around a month to use a tank of petrol and with current fuel prices it’s about $100 a tank, so the public fare price cut doesn’t do much for me. It’s probably just keeping my costs consistent because I’m trying to use more public transport out of climate guilt. Then again I don’t get the student concession so maybe if I was still a young’un it would make a difference.”
Natchida: might watch lectures at home if bus fares increase
“My weekly costs have been reduced by a lot. Going back and coming home on the bus can add up to quite a lot, and it helps to be able to use that extra money for something else. If the bus prices increase again, I will probably just watch my lectures at home. I’m happy with half-price but free public transport would be more helpful.”