From our Chair: Grab a Metrocard and reap the benefits

Jenny Hughey, Chair, Environment Canterbury

Jenny Hughey, Chair, Environment Canterbury

If there’s ever an example of democracy in action, then Annual Plan hearings would be it.

During the final week of April, 110 Canterbury residents spoke in front of our regional council (Environment Canterbury) to give their views on topics we’ve asked for feedback on.

We received more than 2800 submission in total – well over double the number for last year’s Long Term Plan.

For many, it was bus fares that got their wheels spinning.

Onboard with reduced fares 

As you’ll be aware, public transport is a hot topic nationwide – especially since the government announced that fare prices would be temporarily halved.

Prior to the half-price fares, the average patronage for February/March was about 59% of pre-COVID numbers. With the offer in place, patronage has increased to an average of 71% of pre-COVID numbers for the period of April/May.

The submitters we heard from included a man who is a staunch advocate of the Metrocard. He explained how, if used well, the card provides, in his words, “very very cheap bus fares.”

The man told councillors about a trip he makes every three weeks for an appointment across town, and how some of the proposed changes to fare structures would be ‘unacceptable’ for him - if adopted.

This individual is one of a growing number of Canterbury residents who now see bus use as a viable transport option.

A greener and cheaper transport option

Soaring fuel prices and reduced bus fares mean now is a better time than ever to consider ditching the car keys.

Transport is also the largest single contributor to Christchurch’s carbon emissions – so getting more people on the bus is one of our council’s key goals.

This week the council met to discuss bus fares as part of our Annual Plan. After public consultation, we’re proposing a $2 flat fare for greater Christchurch. If approved, this won’t kick in until early 2023.

In the meantime, if you’ve never looked into a Metrocard, here are three reasons why you should:

  • You get discounts of at least 25 percent compared to cash fares. Any bus trip within Christchurch is just $2.65 with a Metrocard and just $1.30 with the current half-price fares.       
  • Those aged 18 and under get 40 percent off (children under five always ride for free).
  • Daily and weekly fares are capped for Metrocard users. For example, you’ll never pay for more than two bus trips per day in the same zone.

Find out more about our buses and how it could work for you and your family. Metrocards cost just $5.00 and can be ordered online or at various outlets throughout the city.

Your feedback matters

For anyone who believes that giving feedback on council plans won’t make a difference, I implore you to think of the submitter I’ve mentioned above.

I was genuinely interested to hear about this resident’s experience with our bus network – and it's stories like his that help shape our final decisions.

When it comes to giving feedback and making submissions on council plans, I encourage you all to hop onboard and help keep the wheels of democracy turning.