Green Party pushes to make public transport free forever

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The Green Party says the government’s move to halve the cost of public transport over the next three months is good, but does not go far enough.

It would not cost much to go all the way and make public transport permanently free under the government’s temporary policy, the Green Party says.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the half-price public transport policy would cost between $25 million and $40 million, suggesting that completely free public transport would cost around $320 million a year, or less than 1% of the government budget of 100 billion dollars each year.

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MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

The Green Party says public transport should be free for good.

“The prime minister’s announcement on the cost of living this week showed us how easy it is to make public transport more affordable,” said Green Party transport spokesman Ricardo Menéndez March.

READ MORE:
* Wellington public transport fares will be halved from April 1
* Government hints there will be a boost to public transport in the budget
* Calls for free public transport after government halves ticket prices

“Free public transport would probably cost less per year than what it takes to cut gasoline taxes for three months.

“In a climate crisis and an inequality crisis, our response today must take into account where we want to be tomorrow, and enabling people to access public transport and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is essential for achieve it.”

The party has started a petition about it, a tool parties typically use both to advocate for the issues and to harvest email addresses from potential voters.

Ricardo Menendez-March said the policy would help fight poverty and climate change.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Ricardo Menendez-March said the policy would help fight poverty and climate change.

The party noted that a trial of free public transport in Auckland saw a 21% increase in use.

The government has hinted that there is a lot more money for public transport in the May budget, but will not discuss whether this will be more focused on reducing the prices of existing services and improvement of these services.

Ridership on public transport has dropped dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who is also co-leader of the Green Party, said the party had not pushed for free public transport ahead of the budget – but made the decision when it considering how cheap it was. could be.

Many of the government’s key budget decisions are believed to have already been made, with ministers making their funding proposals months ago.

National transportation spokesman Simeon Brown said public transportation users should contribute to the cost of the service.

“People who use public transport should pay something for … the service they actually use,” Brown said – noting that public transport was already subsidized.

ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden agreed that public transport users should pay a certain amount of money for the service.

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