Increased discounts for students and disabled people travelling on Wellington public transport will have a "massive impact" on young people.

"This has been a long time coming," said Victoria University Student Association president Rory Lenihan-Ikin.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council today voted "almost unanimously" to provide 50 per cent fare decreases to blind and disabled passengers, and 25 per cent decreases to fulltime tertiary students on the smartcard fare, which is more than 40 per cent off the cash fare.

Other changes, to be introduced next year, include a 25 per cent discount for off-peak travellers, free travel for caregivers accompanying blind or disabled people, and a 50 per cent discount for schoolchildren.


"Wellington has really been falling behind when it comes to tertiary discounts on public transport," Lenihan-Ikin said.

"Wellington's been the most expensive part of the country for students to travel on public transport . . . this really brings the city in line with other parts of the country and other parts of the world that recognises the need to value students, tertiary students, in the city and the role that public transport discounts have to play in this."

Many students travelled from various parts of the region, so the discounts could equate to $20 a week for those in the Hutt Valley and $30 a week for those in Porirua, he said.

"That's a really good shop from the fruit and vege market, or a decent contribution to power and rent bills.

"This is something that will make a significant, tangible impact for students who are living in hardship and will help people get to class."

Students have been campaigning for years to get cheaper public transport, and the move was supported by many around the region.

"Students in their droves, in their thousands have been writing submissions saying this is so important. But also, you know, we've had families, grandparents, uncles and aunties saying this is something that's really important that our city does to value our young people."

The changes to the Better Metlink Fares package add another $300,000 to the $7.5 million price tag.


A 3 per cent general fare rise will pay for a third of the package, with the balance coming from ratepayers and the NZ Transport Agency.

Supporting the growth of tertiary education in Wellington was a smart investment for the region, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency general manager, business growth and innovation David Jones said.

"We want to ensure Wellington remains a destination of choice for talented young people looking to create their future.

"Wellington's 25,000 plus tertiary students already contribute more than a billion dollars to the economy annually, and increasing their numbers will create jobs across the region.

"A significant proportion will also transition into Wellington's workforce to take their first career steps, making them a critical resource for regional businesses."

Greater Wellington will adopt the variation to the Regional Public Transport Plan so new fare policies can take effect in time for changes to Wellington city's bus network next July.