22 Sep 2008

Public transport key to Greens transport policy

5:10 pm on 22 September 2008

The Green Party is proposing a "dollar-a-ride" policy to try to get more people using public transport, as part of its transport policy launched on Sunday.

It proposes that everyone be able to travel off-peak on public transport for $1 anywhere within the urban limits of any city, for a two hour period.

The policy proposes cheaper daily, weekly and monthly transport passes and a 50% discount for children, students and beneficiaries.

Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the current transport system is biased in favour of cars and trucks, and against trains, buses, ferries, bikes, and people on foot.

She said that is unaffordable and unsustainable, and the Greens would progressively increase the proportion of the transport budget spent on public transport, walking and cycling facilities.

Ms Fitzsimons does not believe the plan would end up costing more.

She says the services are running anyway during the day but they are often half empty.

Ms Fitzsimons says the service would benefit from any passenger who shifted from travelling during peak time to off-peak time because of a cheaper fare.

Patronage up

New Zealand's biggest bus company says people are continuing to switch from private to public transport.

Infratil, which owns NZ Bus, released figures on Monday for bus travel in Auckland and Wellington.

In Auckland, bus patronage rose 5.8% in the five months to the end of August compared with the same period last year, while in Wellington, bus patronage rose 3.9% during the same period.

The rise coincides with a steep increase in the cost of petrol, and does not appear to have abated despite slight drops from the price peaks achieved earlier.

Infratil has run the former Stagecoach bus services in Auckland and Wellington since 2005.

Help for cyclists

The Greens are also calling for tougher laws to protect cyclists.

They want a law change so that drivers are liable if they hit a cyclist or pedestrian who is observing the road rules.

Ms Fitzsimons says establishing such liability may seem obvious, but it often does not work out that way and the onus needs to be on motorists to watch out for cyclists.