Low cost public transport success globally – How is this different to what’s happening in NZ?

Around the world there have been public transport initiatives, designed mostly to help citizens of many countries with the rising cost of living, but with the climate in mind too. 

Some successful examples from Europe include Free trains in Spain. The Spanish government has made train trips up to 300km free allowing citizens to travel between cities such as Barcelona and Seville. In Germany there has been an initiative for a 9 Euro ticket, which is valid nation-wide for a whole month. Passengers can travel for example from Berlin to Munich for only 9€ (about $15NZD). The result has been a 15% increase on pre-pandemic levels of public transport use and less crowded streets and roads. In Austria in 2021 the ‘Klimaticket’ (climate ticket) offered intercity journeys for only 3€ – so many tickets were sold their website almost crashed. 

In the states, a country that’s definitely not known for it’s public transport, Colorado is, for the month of August offering free public transport in 31 cities and towns and half-price public transport between cities and towns. For a great listen on the fare-free vs cheap fee public transport debate check out this podcast from the Spinoff

What’s the difference between these overseas examples and the half price fares in New Zealand? It’s the connection between cities and regions. In New Zealand public transport is run by the regional council. For example in Dunedin it’s run by the Otago Regional Council. In Christchurch by ECAN. But who runs public transport BETWEEN Dunedin and Christchurch? Nobody. There’s only private transport, which is why it’s expensive, and doesn’t come under the half price fare initiative. If today (August 11th) you were to take a bus between Queenstown and Christchurch it would cost $115 with Intercity. When we asked why Intercity buses were so expensive they simply responded ‘it’s because we don’t get any support from the government’. 

There is currently a lack of coordination and cooperation between regional councils, local councils, the national government, and regional transport providers. For a good read on this check out the Public Transport Forum blog
Would you like to help reduce transport emissions, and be able to travel by public transport to your favourite outdoor place? Join POW as a member and then get in touch with the candidates in your local and regional council. The local elections in October are a chance for voters to make their voice heard, and vote for candidates who will make public transport within and between regions cheap, or even better, free. It would be better for the climate, better for people who take public transport, and better for people who can’t avoid driving too.