Cheaper transport and more support for Cantabrians arrives as fares will skyrocket

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The Cantabrians stand to benefit from cheaper public transit, increased flood recovery aid and an additional $300,000 in questionable community funding.

Cheaper transport will improve the social life of those struggling with the cost of living crisis.
Photo: Christchurch City Council

But that will come with a 16% rate hike.

The regional council adopted its annual plan today, with public transport the big ticket – receiving $108 million.

It will cover a two-year trial of lower rates, which is expected to start in February.

Under 25s, college students, Total Mobility cardholders and Community Services Cardholders will test a flat rate of $1 and all other travelers will have a $2 fee, except for a few rural routes.

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SuperGold Card users will also now benefit from free public transport every day from 9am.

Currently, cardholders only get free fares during off-peak hours, typically between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Environment Canterbury chair Jenny Hughey said it would improve the social lives of older people in the community.

“Not everyone is a wealthy retiree,” she said. “There are a lot of poor pensioners and most of them are women and there are more and more of them.

“They tell me they can’t go to the Workers Education Association because they can’t stay there too late – they can’t pay for the bus home,” she told her colleagues. today.

Electric buses, safety measures to protect drivers and passengers are also included.

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But not everyone was happy.

Two councilors, Claire McKay and Megan Hands, voted against the plan.

McKay said she could not support a plan that would see a 16% increase in rates for residents.

“There is no escaping the fact that we are dramatically increasing the cost of living crisis for our stressed and heavily impacted communities, who are already facing a myriad of rising costs in their households and businesses. This fare bill will land in their mailboxes in a few months,” she said.

The rate increase was initially set at 18%, but the council opted to borrow and delay some costs to bring the figure down.

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A group of five councilors were also dismayed that the bus lawsuit appeared to win over biodiversity funding, which cut the planting program and received $6 million.

Councilor Elizabeth McKenzie said it was very disappointing that half of the councilors did not support biodiversity funding and tree planting.

“Farmers from the Banks Peninsula have come to us asking for help setting aside land for native biodiversity…and we’re not funding that,” she said.

Other concerns raised were the timing of the bus trial and the lack of fast and efficient services.

Bus usage in Christchurch remains 30-40% below pre-pandemic levels, although domestic public transport fares have been half price since April.

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