Cheaper bus fares on the way for Greater Christchurch
Environment Canterbury councillors have agreed on a budget and workplan that balances community expectations on affordability with the need to act on climate change – including a trial for much cheaper public transport in a bid to make it cheaper for people to travel in a way that reduces overall transport emissions.
Council adopts Annual Plan | Mahere ā Tau 2022/23
At a Council meeting on Thursday 16 June, the Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) adopted its Annual Plan | Mahere ā Tau 2022/23, setting out what activities it would deliver and how they would be funded.
As a result of the effects of COVID-19, recovery from significant flooding in the region in May 2021 and an increasing need for action in response to climate change, the plan contains variations to what was initially set out for Year 2 (2022/23) in the Council Long-Term Plan 2021-31.
Environment Canterbury Chair Jenny Hughey said an important consideration for councillors was the changing economic and social environment, and the ability of the community to pay for everything that needs to be done.
“We heard from the community that you do want us to take action to respond to climate change – whether it’s protection from the increased frequency and severity of floods, or reducing our transport emissions – but that times are financially tight at the moment.”
Collective investment a response to climate emergency
“I am very pleased with the agreement from Council to respond to the climate emergency and address emissions through agreeing a new fare structure for public transport. This collective investment delivers better outcomes for the community and our environment,” she said.
“I want our ratepayers to start to think about the collective good and the value that comes from us all contributing our part. For example, each person might pay a small portion of the cost of flood recovery, reducing the likelihood and potential impact of significant flood events. In this case, everyone benefits as infrastructure, livelihoods and lives are protected.
“It’s the same with pest control, and the preservation and restoration of habitats. We all benefit from work that means our native species can thrive and birdsong returns to our urban areas.
“It is a balancing act. We have kept social equity at the forefront, through agreeing on a new public transport fare structure and finding ways to reduce the rates increase as much as possible, while not taking our eye of the huge task ahead of us in the region.
“And we couldn’t have done it without the quality of the input from our Papatipu Rūnanga partners, organisations we work with, and the more than 2800 people who made submissions – thank you,” Chair Hughey said.
New bus fare structure
There will be a two-year trial of new bus fares for Greater Christchurch, beginning in February 2023.
For existing Zones 1 and 2 and 3, this will comprise a $1 targeted flat fare for those aged under 25, tertiary students, Total Mobility card holders and Community Services Card holders; and a $2 flat fare for everyone else.
The ferry service will offer a targeted flat fare of $2 for the groups noted above, and a $4 fare for everyone else.
This represents a fare reduction for all bus users, targeting an increase in the use of public transport and thereby a reduction in vehicle emissions and traffic congestion.
“We have heard the repeated calls from our community to make it easier for people to choose to travel using public transport,” Chair Hughey said.
“Our trial of reduced fares will provide an incentive for people to give the bus a go.
“More people using the bus is one way we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from transport, especially as we introduce more electric buses to our fleet. Fewer private vehicles on the road means less congestion.”
Flood recovery and protection
Flood recovery work resulting from the May 2021 flood event is estimated to cost about $20 million, with about $7.5 million funded from the Government's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
We will fund the remainder by borrowing up to $12.2 million in years 2 and 3 of the Long-Term Plan, to be repaid by general rates over 10 years.
“Our decision to fund recovery and repairs following last year’s devastating flood event through general rates reflects the value we all get from this protection,” Chair Hughey said. “Our flood defences offer protection for vital infrastructure and community assets as well as people and property during severe events.”
Climate Change Levy
To accelerate action in response to climate change Environment Canterbury will work with the community to develop funding principles and prioritise initiatives.
The climate change levy itself will not be included in this Annual Plan | Mahere ā Tau 2022/23.
What this means for rates - sample properties
|Sample property location||Ratable valuation 2021/22||Ratable valuation 2022/23||Total rates 2021/22||Total rates 2022/2023||Change +/-|
|Timaru urban city||$355,000||$355,000||$288.93||$304.22||+$15.30|