By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter
The prospect of cashless buses will cause anxiety for older residents, Grey Power North Canterbury president Jan Pentecost says.
She was reacting to Environment Canterbury's decision to move to cashless buses next year, in the interests of staff safety.
Passengers on the Greater Christchurch Metro Network will be unable to pay by cash from the second half of 2024, as part of the implementation of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS).
''Many older people have used cash all their lives,'' Pentecost said.
''There are a group of our older people who go down to the ATM on pension day and withdraw most of their money and pay for everything by cash, because that is what they have always done.
''When they are 80-odd, they get really anxious about all these changes.''
Over-65s can use their gold card to ride for free from 9am on weekdays and all weekend and public holidays, so many do not have a Metro card, Pentecost said.
Environment Canterbury customer service and public transport marketing manager Thomas McNaughton said Metro operators had advocated removing cash from buses and ferries for some time.
''Over the last 18 months, staff have worked closely with operators and other partners to improve network safety for both staff and customers.
''This has been in response to an increase in incidents and complaints around safety.''
He said about 12 percent of passenger trips were paid for by cash.
The new National Ticketing Solution will provide payment options such as debit/credit card, an NTS pre-paid card, or smart devices - but not cash.
Patrons will be able to top-up pre-paid cards at service centres and online.
Pentecost said overseas research has shown there will always be a group of people unable to use technology, whether due to cost or being unable to learn.
''As we move to a cashless society and digital inclusion, it feels like old people don't matter.''
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air