'Transport disadvantaged': Inequity proving a barrier in Invercargill

8:45 pm on 7 May 2024
Transport barriers are proving a barrier for some youth in Invercargill, a council manager says.

Transport barriers are proving a barrier for some youth in Invercargill, a council manager says. Photo: ODT/Supplied

Transport inequities are proving a barrier for some young people in Invercargill, preventing them from joining in group activities.

The issue was highlighted at an Invercargill City Council infrastructure services committee meeting on Tuesday, where public transport fares were discussed.

During debate, councillor Grant Dermody said he wasn't clear on what the 30 year vision for public transport looked like for the city.

Dermody said the council needed to look at connecting its network to different areas, such as Bluff or Sandy Point.

Council manager strategic asset planning Doug Rodgers agreed there was work to be done.

"I met with community leaders in South City, just regarding that very fact, that young people have difficulties getting to sport on a Saturday because mum and dad basically are transport disadvantaged, they don't have a vehicle," Rodgers said.

"They can't get to sports practice during the week.

"These are things that come into that larger strategic view of what we want to provide, and what we can provide."

The public transport report tabled at Tuesday's meeting was a follow-up to an April report which highlighted a $95,000 hole for the council on the back of a government announcement it would no longer fund free public transport for under 13s, or half price fares for under 25s.

Tuesday's report was requested for by councillors, and provided more information ahead of upcoming long term plan deliberations.

It showed that while patronage was on the rise - around the 150,000 patron-per-annum mark - it had dropped from over 200,000 in 2015/16.

The largest cohort of users were youths and children, with only about 30 percent of patrons classified as adults, Rodgers said.

A range of options were presented to councillors in lieu of the government pulling back on its subsidy, but no decision would be made until the deliberations took place.

Options ranged from providing free fares for all users at a cost of $170,000 to the council, to charging a flat $3 fare for all users over 5 years of age, which would bring in $496,000.

Deputy mayor Tom Campbell requested staff provide a net cost to council for various options, while mana whenua representative Pania Coote expressed her hopes for the bus service to extend to Bluff.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.