“Travel concessions on public transport for people with disabilities are unfair, in disarray and need to be fixed now!” said Councillor Paul Bruce. Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) in a decision at its Sustainable Transport Committee 10th August, accepted the need to consider disability concessions in a new fare review planned to take place later this year.
Cr Bruce said that central Government provides and local Government administers total mobility refunds for use of taxis. However, total mobility discounted taxi fares do not apply to public transport services. For example, if beneficiaries use buses and/or trains to attend hospital appointments, they still have to pay a full fare. “It is appalling that people like Michelle and her severely disabled son Elijah, eligible for the total mobility pass, cannot easily access public transport”.
Michelle asks, “If a number 3 bus passes my house and the hospital every 10 minutes off peak regardless of whether it has passengers, would it harm to include a disabled person plus a career at a child concession?” [Appendix 1 Michelle and Elijah’s story].
Some public transport concessions are available in Wellington city through Go Wellington, and others exclusively in the Hutt. These concessions are set to disappear under new contracts to be tendered over the next 6 months, as they are not part of the Public Transport Plan [see Appendix 2 for the range of disability concessions].
“We need to immediately establish a simple scheme where the electronic card in normal use for public transport, is also available for those registered with GWRC for Total Disability. I am pushing for this to be introduced as soon as possible. This could then be extended to other disabilities such as the Blind and their care-givers”, Cr Bruce concluded.
Appendix 1: Michelle Wilhelm and Elijah’s story
Experiences of accessing public transport for the disabled.
Total Mobility Scheme was a fantastic notion back when it was developed but with increasing taxi costs, it is not longer that accessible to most people with disabilities who can’t afford to pick up the extra cost for the subsidised portion. For example, a return fare after subsidy from my home to Wellington hospital is $50, and if my appointment was in Hutt Hospital the cost would be $180.
There is a huge disparity between the organisations and what they subsidise for public transport. For example, a blind person can travel with a companion anywhere in the wellington region at child fare,
whereas a Wellingtonian on a supported living benefit (the old invalid’s benefit) can only travel within the bounds of the Go Wellington buses. Those attending the Disability Centre in the Hutt can travel half price on Hutt Buses only.
There is talk that disabled people should be integrated into society but this system currently leaves them isolated in their local community rather than travelling to access many other fabulous disability resources in the greater Wellington region such as Riding for the Disabled in Silverstream and Porirua, the aquatic centre in Kapiti that has full wheelchair accessibility, and Wellington City Councils hydrotherapy pool in Kilbirnie.
Elijah and I have used buses and trains since Elijah was a baby. From the age of 2 to 5 we travelled 5 days a week to Naenae for therapies not available in Wellington.
First by bus, but when the airport flier and valley buses had issues with his adaptive wheelchair looking more like a pushchair, we went with the trains instead.
Some people get concessions…but not all..why?
As far as I see it…most buses and all trains are wheelchair accessible so why shouldn’t we use them?
- terms and conditions are long and confusing
- Primary and intermediate school children get concessions
- High school age children with ID also get concession
- Blind people get concession and if they don’t have a guide dog, one carer gets a concession
- Gold card holders get the ultimate concession FREE off-peak
- If you provide a letter from Disabled Resource Centre to iSite you can get a concession card
- WINZ supported living (old widows, invalids, or DPB) get concession off peak (but slightly different off-peak hours to Goldcard)
So Elijah’s got a wheelchair? Why don’t I use Total Mobility Taxis?
Taxis cost (after subsidy taken off)
- $50 return to Wellington hospital or our GP
- $180 to Hutt
- $63 to ThorndonThere are only about 2 wheelchair combined taxis in Wellington, plus Dean from Kapiti. Busy peak times due to Ministry of Ed contracts, mean that they are not available for appointments around 9am or 3pm
Disability allowance covers travel you say?
DA covers expenses up to $91 per week
I don’t own a car…that was a luxury I lost long ago…petrol, let alone insurance and parking, costs were too much.
So my question is:
If a number 3 bus passes my house and the hospital every 10 minutes off peak regardless of whether it has passengers would it harm to include disabled plus a career at a child concession?
Total mobility cards already have an adult snapper chip inside. Administration of this could include Blind and Disability Centre people under one umbrella too.
Appendix 1: Concessions available
Total mobility card: 50% discount through snapper for authorised taxis, up to a maximum of $40 in Wellington. A doctor’s certificate for long term disability issues is issued taking into account national guidelines. The discount does not extend to public transport.
Blue invalid’s beneficiary pass (card): 50% discount available on cash fare. Go Wellington product, Issued to those on DPB, widow or invalid sickness benefit for travel off peak between the hours 9am and 4pm, evenings and weekends.
Green card: 50% child discounted snapper fare. Issued through the Blind Foundation and IHC New Zealand
Normal Red snapper card – A child discount issued for an adult career of a disabled beneficiary.
Super Gold Card – Free off peak to seniors over the age of 65 during off-peak hours (9am and 3pm, evenings and weekends)