ECAN Annual Plan 2022/2023
Environment Canterbury is holding their 2022/2023 draft Annual Plan consultation and is proposing a radical change in the public transport fare structure that could lead to widespread direct and indirect benefits for most households in the Greater Christchurch area.
ECan has proposed three different options for public transport fares as part of the consultation. These options will be trialed over a period of two years:
Option 1: Targeted fare-free travel for under 25s, students, Total Mobility and Community Services card holders across all zones.
Option 2: Two-year trial of flat $2 Metrocard fares for adults and $1.20 for children and tertiary students across all zones.
Option 3: Two-year trial of a concession for tertiary students (paying child fares).
Generation Zero supports Option 1 on the principles of climate justice, decarbonisation and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Why does it matter?
De-carbonisation and shifting away from reliance on fossil fuels: Transport is Canterbury's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. With fare-free public transport, we can have a suitable alternative to private vehicles that can compete on cost and convenience, especially as private vehicles who rely on fossil fuels are at the mercy of oil prices, especially in an unstable and turbulent time in the world like right now. Electric vehicles are still not affordable for many people, and are a maladaptive solution to climate change as they keep us car-dependent.
By shifting modes of transport from cars to buses (which fleets are becoming increasingly electric), we can reduce our emissions, and reduce traffic on our road - which has many indirect effects such as reduced noise/air pollution, greater accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, and reduced money spent on road maintenance due to wear and tear from traffic.
Making Christchurch a more fair and equitable city: The targeted nature of the fare-free travel option means those more likely to have low income are able to access public transport to get to work, school, access services such as healthcare and see family and friends. With fares-free travel, the impact of travel costs on low income users and families can be reduced.
The increased accessibility of public transport to such a large group of people can bring many wider society benefits. Being able to travel without worrying about the cost of transport can help with mental health, and using public transport leads to healthier outcomes for users.
Environment Canterbury has projected that the first option will lead to the greatest amount of emission reduction and public transport user increase out of all the options.
What is the cost?
A combination of rates increases and grants from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will be necessary to fund the proposed changes to public transport fares. The proposed rate increases are contentious, but for many households that would take advantage of the new proposed fare changes, the savings from free or flat fares greatly outweigh the increase in rates annually.
The cost of doing nothing in the worsening climate crisis is existentially higher than taking the step to reduce our emissions through cheaper fares.
How can I help?
You can help by submitting on the annual plan using the Environment Canterbury Annual Plan online submission form which is quick and easy to use. There is a submission guide below that can help guide you on the submission process. Submissions closed 5pm on Sunday April 3rd 2022.