The Otago Regional Council (ORC) will consider a proposal at a council meeting on Wednesday to introduce temporary simplified fares in Dunedin when the Orbus network moves from the current Covid-19 fare-free services to the new Bee Card ticketing system.
The proposed structure would reduce the cost of weekly travel for many people in Dunedin, and make bus travel free at all times for SuperGold card holders. If adopted, the flat fare structure would be revisited at the end of this calendar year.
The temporary flat fare would see adults in Dunedin pay $2 and children $1.50 per trip when travelling with a Bee Card, or $3 without a card regardless of where they are travelling to or from.
In Queenstown, which already has the same flat fares, the $10 airport cash fare would be reduced to a $4 cash fare.
SuperGold card holders would travel free across both networks. Currently, they travel free between 9am and 3pm on weekdays.
Pending the Council’s decision and community consultation, this temporary fare structure would be rolled out across the Orbus network alongside the introduction of the Bee Card—the new tag on tag off bus card that will replace the GoCard. The Bee Card allows passengers to swipe their card as they enter and exit the bus and top up their card online.
The Bee Card is part of the Regional Integrated Ticketing System (RITS) being implemented across nine regions in New Zealand this year.
ORC Transport Manager Garry Maloney said the proposal is all about timing.
“COVID-19 has made people across the country review the way we travel, and we know many people have enjoyed having fewer cars on the road. For ORC, we are looking not only at how we can continue to keep up the contactless safety measures that are necessary due to the pandemic, but also how to make bus travel more convenient and attractive.
“Offering cheaper, simpler fares alongside the Bee Card, which speeds up the boarding process, is one of the options we have for doing that.”
Currently the lowest fares on the Dunedin network includes a single zone at $1.72 for a student concession, $1.92 for an adult and $1.15 for a child concession, all using a GoCard. However, most passengers travel across multiple zones, making the flat fare more affordable. For example, a one-way trip from Mosgiel or Port Chalmers into the Dunedin centre covers three zones and would cost $4.44 under normal fare rates.
“The simplified fare structure makes calculating travel easier and will enable more passengers to travel further afield, which is something we know our community wants,” Mr Maloney continued.
“The Bee Card also conveniently minimises interactions between the driver and passenger.”
Councillors will also consider a proposal for ORC to support fare-free travel in Dunedin and Queenstown until the Bee Card goes live.
Mr Maloney said keeping bus trips free until the transition to the Bee Card would help avoid confusion in the interim.
Councillors will consider the recommendations at a meeting on Wednesday. If they agree to the proposal, ORC will need to consult with the community on the interim fare structure.
Changing the bus service fare structure requires an amendment to ORC’s Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP), and triggers a need for public consultation.
The proposed timeframe for consultation includes a two-week submission period in June/July, and a Council decision by the end of July.
About the Bee Card
The Bee Card is the new tag on tag off bus card which is making its way across the North Island and will be coming to Otago in a few months.
As well as an easy tag on tag off system, it will also offer benefits such as setting up an online profile for topping up and loading child concessions on the card. SuperGold holders will not need a Bee Card while SuperGold fares remain free.
ORC staff will be sharing more information and getting out to community groups to make sure everyone is ready for the move to the Bee Card.
For more information, visit https://www.orc.govt.nz/public-transport/bee-card.