Monday, June 24, 2019

Auckland public transport booms in popularity with region's first fare-free day

By Todd Niall and Caroline Williams, Stuff, 23 June 2019

Photo / Greg Bowker NZ Herald

Families and children are expected to be big users of Auckland's fare-free Sunday public transport promotion.
Aucklanders have enjoyed their first all-day chance to use public transport without paying on Sunday, with services across the network humming with passengers.
Auckland Transport put extra staff in key locations for the initiative which it hoped would get more people hooked on public transport.
The fare-free Sunday was announced a fortnight ago as a way of celebrating the milestone of 100 million public transport trips being made in a 12-month period.
AT expected a far bigger than normal turnout on the network, especially from families.
"Kids love going on double-deckers, it's one of those novelty things, and I think a lot of families will try to get out on the trains," Stacey van der Putten, the group manager of metro services, said.
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said although exact numbers were not yet known, public transport services across the network had been busy.
However, buses in particular had been "very busy" and all train services were double-carriaged. 
Ferries had also proven popular, with queues of people being asked to wait for the next service due to ferries reaching max capacity.
Half Moon Bay, east Auckland, was an early contender for busiest ferry service while Devonport ferry services were reshuffled in anticipation of high demand.
Hannan himself travelled from Britomart to Sylvia Park and back on a full train, where he observed some passengers who had never been to Britomart before.
"[There are] lots of people trying things for the first time. It's generally gone pretty well." 
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff tweeted about the occasion, stating central hub Britomart had been "bulging" with four times more people than usual.

There were stand-by buses for the northern busway, which is mostly served by double-deckers, and extra capacity on some ferry routes.
The Waiheke Island ferry, which operated outside the public transport network, was not be fare-free, except for holders of multi-journey passes issued by Fullers.
Public transport enthusiasts launched a challenge on social media – with the hashtag #akltransitchallenge – in which the aim is to pass through every train and busway station.
The challenge would start and end at the downtown Britomart terminus, and participants were encouraged to post on Twitter a photo from the outer end of each rail and busway line.
Discounted or fare-free public transport moves have gained momentum in Auckland this year to try to accelerate patronage, which is already rising at nearly 8 per cent.

Auckland Council this month voted to make weekends fare-free for under-16s, starting in September.
A wider range of ideas to shift more commuters out of their cars is being worked on jointly by the council, AT and the Government.
In March, the youth climate change lobby group Generation Zero launched a campaign calling for cheaper fares, free weekend travels for families, and a new range of daily and weekly fare caps.
Generation Zero also proposed boosting the tertiary fare discount from the current 20 per cent level to 50 per cent, free travel for under-12s, and creating optional extras for holders of the AT HOP travel card, such as being able to buy an unlimited weekend travel pass.
Other ideas included extending the period allowed to transfer between services without extra cost from 30 minutes to an hour.


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