Media release

Media release: Free fares for children from 1 July

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Otago Regional Council will be one of the first big centres in the country to offer free bus fares for young people from July 1.

The free fares can be accessed through a registered Bee Card and children must tag on and off the bus.

“The Transport Team has been working hard to make sure the new fare structure can be applied when fares change on 1 July,” says ORC’s Manager Transport Lorraine Cheyne.

“There are a number of public transport ticketing systems across New Zealand at present and the changes are being managed differently from region to region,” says Ms Cheyne.

“One of the challenges for many public transport authorities has been the implementation of age verification. Otago is one of eight other regions in New Zealand that use the Bee Card and this group has all adopted the new concessions and will be able to verify concessions by age through use of the Bee card.”

From 1 July bus fares for children 5 – 12 years will be free, while half price child fares will be offered to those 13 – 18 years and half price adult fares for those 19 – 24 years.

There is no change to the off-peak concessions for SuperGold card holders.

The Community Connect concession which offers half price fares to Community Services Card holders starts on the same day.

Fares for those over 25 years, using a Bee Card, will be $2 for a one-way trip.

ORC Chair Gretchen Robertson says the move will make public transport even more appealing for families and help those who are finding it difficult to balance their budget.

“This is fantastic news for our communities and will help many families who may be feeling the rising cost of living.

“We can expect to see more school students on the buses at busy times,” says Cr Robertson.

“There will also be impacts across Dunedin and Queenstown at peak travel times, but this is a good challenge to solve.”

“Our statistics show real demand driven by cheap fares, with Dunedin passenger numbers now above pre-Covid levels,” she says.

“Free travel for under 13s and reduced fares for young people get them used to using buses which will encourage lifelong habits.”

The concessions are an extension of the national Community Connect programme which aims to support New Zealanders with the cost of living. The new fares will be funded as part of the scheme.

At a glance; the 1 July bus fare changes

  • Fares for children 5-12 years free
  • Half price child fares for 13-18 years old, using a Bee Card​
  • Half price adult fares for those 19-24 years old, using a Bee Card
  • Fares for over 25s, using a Bee Card, $2 per one-way trip
  • No change to the off-peak concessions for SuperGold card holders ($2 during peak times with Bee Card)
  • The Community Connect concession, which offers half price fares to Community Services Card holders, also starts on 1 July

View our Fares from 1st July