About the Free Fares campaign

Click the logo to go to the free fares website!

Free fares is a national campaign that over 60 organisations and councils around the country have teamed up on. We are called the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity and we are asking the government to fund free public transport, nationwide, for Community Service Card and Total Mobility Card holders, tertiary students, and under 25’s.

Free public transport for key groups is a step towards transport and mobility equity, as well as paving the way for new transport modes that can lower our too-high transport emissions. Visit the website and find out more, like why we selected these groups, who is part of the coalition, how you can sign the petition, and much much more!

Free fares in Canterbury

Anglican Advocacy has been dedicating some time to developing a great team of free fares organisers here in Ōtautahi.

Our team is made up of people with a diverse range of occupations, age, and involvement. The work that goes into planning our events, submissions, and other mahi is all capacity based, so its really easy to get involved- just contribute to what you can and want to.

Contact Gabrielle at researcher@anglicanadvocacy.org.nz to get involved.

Free Fares and the ECan Consult

Environment Canterbury consulted the public on the bus fares structure changes as part of their draft annual plan. They asked about a 2 year trial for three options:

  1. Free for Total Mobility and Community Service Card holders, students, and under 25s (this is their preferred option)
  2. Flat rate of $2 for everyone
  3. Tertiary students travel on child fare

Why do we care?

Transport is at the heart of emissions, climate change, and congestion, and that would be enough by itself. But lack of affordable transport also has a huge impact on loneliness, isolation, poverty, and health.

We also love that this is a 2 year trial. There is huge potential in this proposal for long term culture shift and transport equity. There will also be reasons some people won’t like it. A two year trial will let us know. We’ll get to see the cost, and our disadvantaged and vulnerable populations will get to experience transport equity. The data we would get from this trial can inform what the rest of Aotearoa can do to live within a climate emergency.

The Benefit and the cost

Getting more people using the bus will reduce emissions and take cars off the road. Public transport is a key factor in our climate change strategy, and need bold action! But part of the benefit of this is also about culture shift. Including students and under 25s is about getting a whole generation into the habit of public transport.

Including total mobility and community service card holders starts to make Canterbury a fairer and more equitable transport city. Low income families can spend up to 28% of their income on transport. People miss doctors appointments, days at school, and family connection because they cannot afford to travel.

But for that benefit there is some cost. Environment Canterbury would be increasing rates up about $1.62 per week if they were to implement both option one and two. While this seems like an incredibly small rates increase compared with the thousands of dollars people in poverty can save every year, it may impact some homeowners’ ability to cope with the rising cost of living. That’s why Anglican Advocacy asked ECan to consider implementing option two alongside option one- to ensure equal access to cheaper buses.

While Anglican Advocacy support our local regional council’s initiative in addressing Canterbury’s transport issues, we would much prefer that the central government funds the targeted free fares nationwide. We know the government can include this in the budget, as they have shown us with the temporary gas and bus subsidies from March till May, 2022. We think free buses is a prudent step for our whole country to have an equitable transport system that reduces emissions.

Stories from Ōtautahi

Staying in one place is bad for depression. The doctor said I should do things. But I can’t because I don’t have money

“We want to make the best choice for the climate, but it’s hard when it’s so expensive”

“Free bus rides would be much easier because we wouldn’t have to stress about getting to school”

To a lot of people it really doesn’t seem like a lot of money. I think people struggle to understand how 4 bus rides a day can break some families. The food banks all see it though

We cannot wait to see the results of the public consultation! Lets hope ECan decides to make the most of this opportunity to lead the rest of our country into transport mode shift that’s better for people and planet.

Anglican advocacy made a submission guide that was spread throughout our network. Making submission easier for people is a key way to get people involved. Our submission guide is below.

Our submission guide was then updated by members of our free fares in Canterbury team. This one could be printed and folded into a handing pamphlet. We got a lot of attention for this around the UC campus, and drummed up a bunch of student involvement.

The free fares in Canterbury team even had a submissions and pizza event. We got an estimated 40 more submissions written in this one day. The feedback we heard most was that it was actually so easy to do a submission, the online forms offered by ECan meaning it takes just minutes. We are really grateful we managed to reach such a large group. Showing young people how to get involved in local democracy kept us moving towards our goal of increasing the civic engagement of more communities in Ōtautahi.