The New Zealand Government’s Wellbeing Budget includes provisions designed to make public transport cheaper for low income households.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, who announced the news on Saturday, stated that the plans involve the creation of a scheme to reduce bus and train costs for Community Services Card holders.
The NZ Government has set aside a $4.6 million budget for the scheme in the 2019–2020 year to cover implementation costs.
The scheme is part of a confidence and supply agreement between the ruling Labour Party and the Green Party to deliver a Green transport card, with the central government and local councils working together to “better understand the potential cost of the scheme and how and when it could be rolled out,” according to Genter.
Genter pointed out that between 2013-2017, weekly expenditure on public transport services among people in the lowest income group had increased by 63 per cent.
“For too many people transport costs are a real barrier to everyday activities like going to the doctor, taking the kids to school, or visiting friends and family,” she said.
“Making trains and buses more affordable for those who need it will help to ensure all New Zealanders have the opportunity to be earning, learning, caring or volunteering.”
There are around 900,000 Community Services Card holders in New Zealand. Eligible users include people who receive Work and Income benefits such as disability allowance or accomodation supplements, certain students, refugees and those on jobseeker support.