Northland MP Winston Peters is calling for a fair deal for Far North pensioners so they can enjoy free public transport like SuperGold Card holders in the big cities.

The Far North has only one daily bus service - Kaitaia's Busabout, which links the town with Ahipara, Mangonui, Pukenui and Pak'n Save - but pensioners cannot use their SuperGold card.

Nor can they use it on the ferries that cross the Hokianga Harbour or shuttle between Russell, Paihia and Opua.

That is in contrast to Auckland, where cardholders get free off-peak travel on virtually all public transport, including the Waiheke ferry.


Busabout missed out on Gold Card eligibility because of a government moratorium in 2010 stopping new services joining the scheme. The moratorium was imposed due to cost concerns.

Mr Peters says the moratorium was meant to be re-assessed last year but it had been put off. Transport supply and demand as well as demographics had changed since the moratorium was imposed, he says.

"NZ First believes SuperGold Card funding should be regularly reassessed for maximum benefit. The unfairness is that SuperGold cardholders in the regions are at a disadvantage to their urban counterparts who reap the most advantage of free off-peak public transport - and urban commuters don't have the distances to travel as regional commuters."

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Simon Bridges says a decision about the process and timeline for reviewing the moratorium would be made by the middle of this year.

Fullers GreatSights manager Charles Parker, whose company operates most Bay of Islands ferries, says he has enquired about joining the GoldCard scheme in the past.

However, he was told the small budget for Northland was allocated to Whangarei bus services.

The company that operates Busabout, Community Business and Environment Centre, has been offered various reasons for its ineligibility for the GoldCard scheme.

They include that the service does not reduce urban congestion and it missed the cut-off date because its initial funding was through the Ministry for the Environment, not the Ministry of Transport.


Busabout's vehicles run on 50 per cent biodiesel made from used cooking oil.