Auckland councillor Efeso Collins is calling for free public transport to address fairness across the city's transport system.
Luisa Lui spends $50 per night driving her Imprezza across Auckland to get to her four cleaning jobs. She's unable to use public transport as her job is outside the normal 9 to 5 hours.
She’s one of an army of off-peak workers facing the same problem, with lower-paid workers being more likely to work unusual hours and spend large amounts of money on petrol.
“One of our sites, we wouldn't be able to rely on public transport because not once have I ever seen a bus [to Piha],” she said.
A Ministry of Transport report outlines equity issues in the city’s transport system.
It says it doesn’t consider the needs of women and Māori who live in areas not served well by the transport system.
Collins said while there’s been “a lot of talk” about people living on the North Shore being forced to drive to get to the airport, we “can't even get our residents in Papakura to work on time”.
While the report is calling for a higher frequency of public transport in off-peak hours, Collins is calling for it to be free “across the nation”.
“Auckland Council's commitment to the America's Cup would’ve paid for free public transport for the next seven years and Aucklanders will stay and live here. The America's Cup is now heading offshore,” he said.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said while public transport could be made free, “you'd be spending $200, $300 million a year - including subsidising people like myself who don't need any subsidy”.
Major decision makers say a roadmap for change is already in place, with Auckland Transport planning to spent $10 million each year to improve off-peak services.
“That's a 50 per cent discount that 200,000 Aucklanders will be eligible for Community Cards - that's about equity,” Goff said.
He hopes the scheme will eventually be extended to low-income workers.
Meanwhile, a trial offering cheaper fares to community service card holders is set to start next year.