My Facebook campaign group (Back Jack 2013) is getting some traction, though my Facebook page does have more members. Nevertheless, I’m very open to discuss my policies—as much as I have been around Wellington soliciting ideas and feedback, there’s nothing like getting your views on how I’ve interpreted them in my manifesto.
Today, Jonathan Ball asked on my Facebook group: ‘Do you have a view on the Wellington bus services not offering a student discount like they do in other centers?’
My response: ‘Hi Jonathan: my feeling is that this is a regional issue (as the Regional Council looks after transport), and we would work with the Regional Council to ensure a fairer deal for all Wellingtonians, not just students. As I said with transport issues in 2010—the year there was a huge fare increase—we need to demonstrate that we have policies that can show GWRC we are headed on an upward economic path. There was no clear illustration of this three years ago, and the latest statistics show that this is still absent. They may be inclined, then, to put up fares again to cover their costs. The GWRC has gone on record to say that this is their reason—that it’s expensive to run public transport in Wellington. By putting up fares (annually, incidentally), they say that they can spare ratepayers rates’ increases.
‘Short of having a policy that can improve our economy sustainably and responsibly, the pattern is bound to continue. It’s why I’ve highlighted economic issues in my manifesto, and why I plan to identify the real high-growth firms in our city and connect them to international markets so they can expand sensibly. We then provide a more compelling model for those who partner with us on funding.
‘That’s my answer at a general level. More specifically, I understand that some of the student discounts being discussed will see those from further out (e.g. Hutt City) derive a greater benefit. Is this a fair scenario if Wellington City has to bear a good deal of the cost? Are there sufficient buses going from those areas to the city? This is where I’d like public input, and it leans toward the need to consider regional reform, to aid transportation issues.
‘One easily implemented plan we have discussed on our team is to encourage lower off-peak fares for students, which will in the short term get around the GWRC’s fears about the cost of providing public transport here. If the buses are already travelling certain routes during off-peak times, then why not have them as occupied as possible?
‘If we are to have a model, I want to make sure that it’s fair for everyone, and works for everyone. It would be something I would be happy to work on for Wellingtonians at the regional level.’
The dialogue has continued at the Facebook group—I invite you to share your thoughts.
Some other topics have already been raised there since I announced my campaign last month, and your input would be welcome there, too.