Pensioners forced to buy travel card to enjoy free public transport

By Solbin Kang

Auckland Transport launched HOP cards in 2011. Photo / File
Auckland Transport launched HOP cards in 2011. Photo / File

Grey Power says forcing pensioners to fork out for a new bus card to use free public transport is "cruel".

Auckland Transport announced yesterday that from July 1, SuperGold cardholders would need an AT HOP card with a SuperGold concession loaded onto it to continue to have free public transport.

They will need to buy a $10 AT HOP card, and it must have a minimum of $5 credit loaded onto.

A SuperGold card allows senior citizens to travel on public transport free of charge anytime after 9am weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.

Auckland Transport said the new AT HOP cards would bring a number of benefits including the reduction of waiting in queues and cheaper fares than paying by cash before 9am.

The SuperGold concession would also reduce the number of people using the cards when they weren't eligible.

However any senior citizens with a blue AT HOP Card already loaded with a SuperGold concession would still be accepted after July 1.

Grey Power president Tom O'Connor said forcing pensioners to pay at least $15 for a new bus card was "disappointing".

"Fifteen dollars might not sound like a lot but when a pensioner's wife or husband dies, pension income falls by about 42 per cent, but costs and bills stay the same.

"It's a significant amount some might not be able to afford," he said.

He said this may have a flow-on effect with pensioners choosing to stay at home rather than go out to meet friends.

"They will stay home and won't travel as much as they used to and in their active lives they had a group of people over a very wide area of Auckland. Then they start to lose contact with people.

"The end result is single pensioners on their own staying home."

"By world standards we are a very wealthy country. It's unforgivable to neglect our elderly people," Mr O'Connor said.

He said Auckland Transport failed to "accurately assess" the increase in the number of pensioners.

"We knew for 40 years there was going to be a rapid increase and they didn't plan it properly.

An Auckland Council spokesperson said Auckland libraries won't see an influx of senior citizens wanting to top up their HOP cards via the internet.

"There are other ways to top up their HOP cards, such as retailers and via phone," he said.

How to get the new AT HOP Cards if you already have a SuperGold Card

• Senior citizens can only buy a gold AT HOP card if they have a SuperGold card.

• Take your SuperGold card and a current photo ID, for example, a driver licence or your passport. If your SuperGold card has your photo on it, then you do not need to take another form of photo ID.

• Tell the retailer that you are eligible for a gold AT HOP card and present your SuperGold card and photo ID.

• Take $15. The cost of the gold AT HOP card is $10 and you must load it with a minimum of $5 credit. The purchase price is non-refundable. Minimum top up is $5.

• Senior citizens will need to purchase a AT HOP Card by June 30.

• Blue HOP Cards will still be accepted after July 1 and Auckland Transport will swap the blue cards for the gold cards free of charge.

SuperGold AT HOP Card

• You can apply for a SuperGold public transport concession if you have a SuperGold card or an AT Senior Citizen ID card.

• Free public transport applies after 9am weekdays and all day on weekends and on public holidays.

• Travel before 9 am will cost at least 20 per cent less when paying with an AT HOP card when compared to single trip cash fares. This excludes SkyBus, NiteRider and Waiheke ferry services.

• Using AT HOP before 9 am on weekdays means you don't have to carry cash.

- NZ Herald

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