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May 13, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Fair Fare Fears Declared

It was all aboard the Fairer Fares train as Victoria students voiced their need for discounted public-transport fares to councillors and politicians at a forum held in the Hub last week.

The Hub was a hive of activity and pizza with more than 150 students attending the VUWSA-led Fairer Fares Forum on Thursday.

The forum was held as part of the VUWSA-led Get on Board for Fairer Fares for Tertiary Students campaign, which aims to “increase the accessibility of study in Wellington through campaigning for Fairer Fares for tertiary students.”

VUWSA’s Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer Rick Zwaan said the Forum was a chance for students to tell local and national politicians why tertiary students deserve fairer fares.

Mani Taimalelagi, a third-year student, said he thought the Forum was really good as public transport is an issue that affects all students.

Taimalelagi lives in Newtown, and said he sometimes puts on a high voice “just to try and get a child’s fare”. Another student who lives in Kapiti said she spends $300 a month on public transport.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt opened the Forum by saying that it was time for fairer fares “right now, because students are finding it really tough”.

He was supported by Labour transport spokesperson and Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway, who said that Palmerston North has had free buses funded by Massey, UCOL and the UCOL students’ association for years.

“The model works incredibly well, the buses are full every day and students get into the habit of using public transport and it just makes life that little bit easier for students,” said Lees-Galloway.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes was also in attendance, and expressed his support for the campaign.

Hughes said that even though he used to be a “Gisborne boy-racer”, his party supports the campaign and want to see a shift in Government focus from “Roads of National Party Significance” to making education more affordable and accessible for students.

Although many students voiced their concerns about the cost of public transport at the forum, only Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce said he supported the campaign, while Prue Lamason and Peter Glensor remained tight-lipped about their position.

When Salient spoke to Glensor—also Wellington Regional Council’s public-transport deputy chairman—he said he could not see the 50 per cent discount for students proposed by the campaign ever happening.

“I think this is an issue of national importance that needs to be addressed by central government rather than the local council.”

However, Zwaan said this response was a “cop-out”.

“It is an issue of national importance but the Regional Councillors are the key decision-makers in this process, and the reality is that students need fairer fares now,” he said.

Zwaan says the next step in the campaign is to prepare for the Wellington Regional Council meeting in June, when Councillors will vote on the issue.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt said he was pleased with the Forum and the student turnout, but said he has learnt from his appearance on Seven Sharp last Tuesday that his haircut was “not the best idea”.


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