PTUA - press release on Budget

Published on 19/05/2023 at 8:00 am.

Press Release - The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is pleased that the government recognises the value of public transport for the young, old, disabled, and for low income families.

The PTUA believes that retaining free travel for under 13’s and half fares for under 25 year olds will save families a considerable amount of money on their travelling costs.

Niall Robertson, PTUA Chair says “This initiative also steers younger people toward using public transport more, which will hopefully be habit forming. It is important that more people use public transport to help reduce congestion on city roads.”

The PTUA is also pleased with the pre-budget announcement of new hybrid passenger trains for the lower North Island to be used between Palmerston North and Wellington and Masterton.

Jon Reeves, PTUA National Coordinator said, “Although it is a great announcement, it would be better if the line from Waikanae to Palmerston North was electrified, and while we are at it, how about the line from Pukekohe to Hamilton and some new passenger trains for that route”.

Reeves added, “New passenger trains could also be used to serve the people of Huapai who hav e been left with a two lane road carrying more cars per day than the Waikato Expressway. These people really need passenger trains there now!”

Our organisation would like to think that this is an indication that public transport will not just be for those living in big centres, but for all New Zealanders in the regions too. We would like to see the new fares being applicable to long distance Intercity bus services too.

Jon Reeves says, “Why do we punish regional New Zealand with poor and expensive public transport? This needs to be a nationwide initiative and sadly it isn’t”.

We do not support the overly expensive $15 to $30 billion light rail project, which could be achieved more efficiently with a cheaper extension of the existing heavy rail system from Wiri to Onehunga and some lower cost surface light rail systems on the Auckland isthmus. That money saved could be used to enhance more public transport elsewhere.

The PTUA is pleased that the government realises that the use of private contracts for bus services set up a “race to the bottom competition” by bus companies. This created low wages and poor working conditions for bus drivers and led to the current bus driver crisis. The current wage increases, coupled with penal rates and allowances will likely attract more bus drivers to meet the current demand for services, however, perhaps the current contract model for bus services needs a review to put service over profit?”

There were a few wins for public transport users, but we still have a long way to go to extend services so all New Zealanders receive some benefit, and to spend the transport dollars more wisely.

Press release dated 19 May 23. Authorized by Niall Robertson Chair, Public Transport Users Association (PTUA)

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