Bus fare battle goes online

By Mathew Dearnaley

Student's Facebook campaign against plan to scrap pass gains support.

Alex van der Sande will have to pay more to go to university if the Northern Pass is axed. Photo / Greg Bowker
Alex van der Sande will have to pay more to go to university if the Northern Pass is axed. Photo / Greg Bowker

Alex van der Sande fears abolishing weekly bus passes between North Shore and Central Auckland will squeeze student budgets for textbooks and other basic needs.

The first-year University of Auckland engineering student and former Long Bay College head boy has drawn more than 650 followers to a Facebook campaign opposing plans to axe the Northern Pass as the $100 million electronic Hop card is added to bus fleets.

That will raise his weekly bus bill from $33 to at least $44.20 for five-day travel between his Torbay home and the university, or more if he needs to visit the city at weekends.

"That's quite a bit - at the end of the year that's all our text books, really," he said, while preparing to step up his campaign at a presentation to Auckland Council's transport committee tomorrow.

Mr van der Sande, 18, has lobbied Mayor Len Brown on behalf of himself and fellow students, and will be supported at the committee meeting by Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt.

He said he was investigating the cost of car-pooling with fellow students to keep travel affordable.

Although Auckland Transport estimates only about 1600 North Shore commuters will be hit by the loss of the Northern Pass, Mrs Parfitt says they will be predominantly those who can least afford it.

Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said regional planning documents dating back to 2006 had prescribed a "unified fare product across all [transport] operators" and that required a fairer system to make public transport costs uniform across the region. The Northern Pass had been a transitional tool.

- NZ Herald

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