Media release

Free child bus fares set to continue with new youth fares from 1 May

Thursday 21 March 2024

The Otago Regional Council has voted to continue funding free fares for children aged 5 – 12 when the government withdraws funding for subsidised fares on 30 April.

The Community Connect Extension policy, which has been in place since 1 July 2023, offering fare subsidies for passengers aged 5 – 24, will end on 1 May. However, Otago Regional Council (ORC) Chair Gretchen Robertson says she is pleased the Council has ensured free fares remain for children under 12.

“This was top of mind in our decision-making when Councillors considered five options for either retaining or discontinuing child (5 – 12), youth (13 – 18), and youth plus (19 – 24) bus fare subsidies once the government funding finishes,” says Cr Robertson.

“Otago has seen a 68% increase in bus patronage since 2021/22, with a 113% increase in Queenstown and 60% in Dunedin. This shows that there is a real demand for our public transport service, and we wanted to continue this momentum by making it as accessible and affordable as possible for some of our youngest bus passengers.”

Cr Robertson says although it is disappointing to lose subsidies for those aged 13 – 24, it will be a relief to some passengers to know that, alongside free fares for children, this funding change has not affected half price fares for Community Service Card holders and Total Mobility service users.

“Otago Region’s low flat fare also offers some of the cheapest bus travel anywhere in the country.”

Bus passengers are asked to familiarise themselves with the new fare structure for 13 – 24-year-olds so they know what they will be paying from 1 May. ORC’s website will soon be updated to reflect these changes.

Cr Robertson encourages all bus passengers to register their Bee Cards to make sure they are getting cheaper fares.

“Please remember that in all cases, fare concessions are only available with a registered Bee Card. Those aged 5+ who tag on and off with an unregistered Bee Card will pay $2 per bus trip from 1 May,” says Cr Robertson.

At a glance; the 1 May bus fare changes for those with a registered Bee Card:

  • Children under five are still free.
  • Fares for children 5 – 12 years: FREE
  • Fares for youth 13 – 18 years: Dunedin $1.20, Queenstown $1.50 per one-way trip.
  • Fares for adults 19+: Dunedin and Queenstown: $2 per one way trip.
  • No change to the free off-peak concessions for SuperGold card holders ($2 during peak times with a registered Bee Card, free fares off peak).
  • No change for Community Services Card holders (half price adult fares with a registered Bee Card).
  • Cash fares for those aged 13+: $3 Dunedin, $4 Queenstown, $10 Queenstown airport.