Passenger Rail

Caps on fares instituted and proposed on rail networks to grow patronage

CAF AM class train Auckland. - Photo: Auckland Transport

Auckland Transport will make discounts to off-peak fares permanent, as of February 7.

The discounts will apply between 9am and 3pm, after 6.30pm, and all day on weekends.

A daily cap on fares will also be instituted, with $20 the upper limit.

The changes are part of the operator’s annual fare review, which will increase fares by four per cent.

“This year’s fare review is about balancing improvements in value for passengers through new and in some cases reduced fares, improving services where there is demand and balancing use of the public subsidy within the Council Emergency Budget,” said Auckland Transport executive general manager integrated networks Mark Lambert. “We’ve tried to keep any general increases as low as possible to encourage people to use public transport given the impacts to numbers since COVID.”

Revenue on Auckland Transport services has been hit severely by COVID-19. In June 2020, Auckland Council expected farebox revenues would be $74 million lower in 2020/21 than what was planned. A $55m subsidy from national body Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has made up some of the difference, however capital works have been focused on current projects, rather than new initiatives.

While commuters will have to pay slightly higher fares, integrated fares with the AT HOP card mean that passengers will only pay once when transferring between modes.

“Aucklanders provided their views on this during the Emergency Budget consultation process and we have, where possible accommodated what we’ve heard,” said Lambert.

“Importantly, service changes have not impacted on the geographic coverage of our services or to those requiring public transport as a basic social need. The general four per cent increase on individual fares will help reduce pressure on the fare subsidy from Auckland Council and central government while allowing improvements in services.”

In Western Australia, the McGowan Labor government has promised that, if re-elected in March, all fares will be capped at a 2 zone price. This would mean the highest price would be capped at $4.90 and $2.10 for a concession fare.

The new fare structure would cost $60.6m and provide significant savings for those commuting from Perth’s outer suburbs, said Premier Mark McGowan, particularly as the Metronet program extends the length of the suburban rail network.

“This will help ease financial pressure on families in the outer suburbs, making it more affordable to get to work and school, while also ensuring our public transport system is fair and equitable.”

The reduced fares would be introduced in January 2022 and the McGowan government said that it expected the reduced price to take 5,300 cars off roads everyday through increased public transport patronage.