Auckland Transport has suffered a backlash after announcing that prices for fares are increasing in February, leading a non-profit group to start a petition for a fare-freeze.
On Monday, Auckland Transport (AT) announced that it would hike bus, train and ferry fares in Auckland.
The average fare increase is 2 per cent, though some travellers will pay more.
For example, a cash fare for a 3-zone trip, such as from Henderson to Auckland CBD, will go up by 7 per cent from $7 to $7.50.
The move comes as Auckland public transport use jumped 5.2 per cent in the 12 months to November last year - to 95.6 million trips.
Non-profit group Generation Zero, who are a group of young New Zealanders working to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, have created an online petition to urge AT to freeze the fares of public transport in order to the price hikes.
"The price increase will punish people who do travel sustainably, and will lead to thousands fewer people taking public transport every day, increasing congestion and emissions. It's not what we need for our city," they wrote on the petition.
"Auckland's public transport patronage has been increasing remarkably in the last few years. That has led to an impressive increase in the amount of us taking buses, trains and ferries. That's something everyone, especially Auckland Transport, should be proud of.
"Unfortunately the way the current system is set up, the more people who take public transport, the more it will cost. It's a ridiculous system that punishes Aucklanders for doing the right thing."
The petition was launched today at 9am and has since received over 500 signatures.
The group has also written a letter explaining why Aucklanders need a fare-freeze:
"To AT Chief Executive Shane Ellison, Mayor Phil Goff, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford. The planned price increases for Auckland Transport public transport services are a mistake.
"They will keep thousands in their cars and punish those who choose to use sustainable transport.
"This goes against the goals all of your organisations have set for our city. All of you have stated publicly your discomfort with this planned price hike, or at the very least your openness to change.
"We ask that you halt the planned fare increase and address the farebox recovery policy that means Aucklanders increased participation in public transport will only lead with higher prices.
"We the undersigned."
The Auckland Council-controlled organisation says it reviews fares each year to make sure they keep up with costs.
"We would like to have been in a position to not increase fares in 2019," AT chief executive Shane Ellison said.
He said AT has been exploring different means of not increasing fares for the past three months.
"Unfortunately, a small fare increase is needed as any additional revenue generated by new growth resulting from holding fares at current levels is insufficient to meet the costs of providing public transport services without further funding being available."
He explained that because of increase in transport use, that costs need to be hiked they pay for more services.
"It's a balance for AT to provide an extensive public transport system that has enough capacity for a growing city, but we also know that cost is a major factor in how people travel, so we've found efficiencies in order to keep the fare increase at an average of 1.9 per cent. This is well below the inflationary pressures associated with providing public transport," Ellison said.
Richard Hills advocated for a fair freeze in Auckland to combat further rises.
"A fare freeze will require the Government to adjust their farebox recovery target," he said.
"Set up in 2010 the New Zealand Transport Agency requests a farebox recovery target of 50 per cent. The trouble is that, even as Auckland's patronage increases, the operational cost of running more trains and buses puts increased pressure to meet the target — leading Auckland Transport required to increase the ticket price each year.
"... if it is committed to retaining the upward trajectory of patronage it should adjust the farebox recovery target down to at least 40 per cent.
"This would ease the pressure on our communities who are struggling to keep up with increasing household costs."
Many Kiwis have taken to social media to reveal their disgust about the fare increase.
"So price hike for using public transport yet wages/ salaries haven't reflected GDP in most small to medium businesses in years.. At some point its gonna be cheaper to stay at home and claim the benefit," one wrote.
Another said: "You want people to use public transport but you charge too much, you take away a very large amount of public parking to entice people to use the shifty and expensive public transport system. $7.50 from CBD to Henderson, would be cheaper to take the car."
"It's ridiculous. My family took a trip to Auckland City today on the bus and the trip cost us $40 in bus fare all up. Would have been much cheaper to drive and pay for parking. It needs to be made worth it for people to ditch their cars," another person wrote.