Free bus transfers for Wellington city

Remove the hassle:

Freyburg

1: Test connections for fully integrated ticketing rollout 2017/18
2: Better utilisation of existing services
3: Positive outcome for many commuters

The new year in 2015 could gift free bus transfers to Wellington commuters in a push by Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce towards a more efficient and cheaper public transport system. Cr Bruce is proposing a 6-month free bus-transfer-trial within Wellington city be included in the Regional Council’s draft 2015/16 Annual Plan. Commuters arriving on monthly rail passes could also be included.

”The appetizer of a free city- zone bus transfers for users that have a ticket will make the public transport system more convenient and cheaper for many users. Bus patronage is static, so we need to act now”. According to Councillor Bruce, this early rollout could increase patronage on both train and bus, get more vehicles off the road and provide a positive boost to the local economy.

Councillor Bruce is suggesting a 6 months trial during winter 2015, a period that will offer maximum benefit to commuters, with a review early 2016. The trial would pre-empt the planned permanent rollout of free transfers with the new region-wide smart card in 2017/18, and provide useful data for eventual region wide implementation.

The free transfer would allow customers to travel for free within the Wellington CBD, allowing better utilisation of bus services during peak hours. Improving the effectiveness of public transport is one of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) five strategic priorities, and using smarter technology will contribute to this.

It would allow a cheaper fare for Island Bay residents travelling to Kilbirnie Recreational Centre with a two zone ticket rather than a three zone.

“There would be an immediate benefit for some of the 20,000 students, with reduced travel cost to University which will make Wellington an even more appealing place to study, live and work,” said Councillor Bruce.

“This lack of transfer fares leads to students choosing services which have longer travel times and lower levels of service. The current university route 47 takes 48 minutes to reach Kelburn, compared with around 30 minutes for the alternative of catching a direct bus from Johnsonville to Wellington Station and transferring to Kelburn.

The route 47 is a 3 zone journey, while the more frequent and direct option of connecting at Wellington Station would be a 3 zone and additional 1 zone fare.” Cr Bruce added.

“We have free transfers on the Beacon Hill shuttle, Paraparaumu Kapiti Plus ticket, Porirua Mana coaches monthly paper pass. And the the free NZBus transfers in the Hutt Valley also work really well, so this move is long overdue in Wellington city,” he concluded.

Also see: http://www.paulbruce.co.nz/zero-fare-saturday-buses/

For more information and all media enquiries contact Paul Bruce on 021 027 9370

Background
GWRC officers agree that a trial of 6 months months would be useful.
A negotiated agreement should split any benefits or costs.
GWRC Council paper Integrated Fares and Ticketing Programme update 10 December14
Regional Land Transport Strategy (RLTS) 2010-2040
Wellington Regional Public Transport Plan

Existing free transfers
Hutt Valley Flier (NZBUS)
Beacon Hill shuttle: A one off arrangement for part of a route.
Paraparmumu: Free connection to trains (combined bus and train Kapiti Plus ticket)
Porirua: Mana coaches with a monthly pass and a paper product

Proposal rationale
My plan is to put on the Council draft Annual Plan 2015/2016 two public transport proposals for immediate action. The last major public transport initiative in Wellington city was the renewal of the trolley bus contracts in 2006/7.

A NZTA Report on service changes and revenue suggests that the introduction of a free transfer in Hamilton contributed to a permanent 6% jump in off peak weekday patronage, and a 16% jump in weekend patronage. This suggests that the introduction of free transfers ought to precede significant route design as, without free transfers, passenger demand will be lower and trip patterns will reflect fare minimising behaviour, as much as desired trips.

“From what we can ascertain, a two-hour free transfer was introduced [on Hamilton buses] in October 2007, and this seemed to have contributed to a [permanent] 6% jump in off-peak weekday patronage and a 16% jump in weekend patronage.” p72 – Hamilton Bus Services  http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/518/docs/518.pdf

The Regional Land Transport Programme as proposed for the next three years, is 85% expenditure on roads, 12% PT, 3% walking and cycling. And none of the 12% PT expenditure in the Programme is planned for completion in Wellington city during the next three years.

The Regional Transport Plan signed off in June this year was a rather mixed bag with some ill informed and backward proposals around a split spine, removal of trolley buses and adoption of BRT rather than modern tram.

The Plan also contains improved fare structure proposals including integrated ticketing, and a stronger push for public transport priority corridors through the CBD.
But the traveling public will see not even see those improvements until new tenders for the bus routes are signed off in 2017/18.

Rail patronage increased in response to the higher performing new Matangi units by 8% this year. Bus boardings on the other hand are flat lining with only small absolute increases.

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