Farebox Scheme About To Roll: Greens Warning


The NZTA Board is meeting today to approve the Government’s recommendation of setting a farebox recovery ratio of 50% for the main cities.
The ratio determines the proportion of total service costs bus and train passengers pay.
Current ratios are 44% in Auckland and 41% in Canterbury.

The Greens warned this afternoon that bus and trains fares are set to rise further significantly in Auckland and Christchurch if the Government pushes ahead with their plans to raise a greater share of the costs from passengers.
“Forcing regional councils to raise their bus and train fares will lead to fewer people riding buses and trains, the cutting of some services, and greater numbers of cars on our roads,” said Green Party Transport spokesperson, Gareth Hughes.
“This is a lose-lose situation for motorists and bus & train commuters alike. “There are only a few, exceptional cities around the world with farebox recovery ratios set at 50% or above. The average ratio for US cities with basic transit systems is 21%. In US cities with modern, high quality buses and trains, the ratio is 39%.

The Greens MP said that by arbitrarily raising the farebox recovery ratio to 50%, the Government will stop rapid patronage growth dead in its tracks. Late night and early morning bus and train services also risk being cut as regional councils look to save money.
“This Government lacks a vision to actually enhance the choices made available to people to get about. Their singular focus to date has been on roads leaving bus and train users stranded.”
NZTA Farebox Recovery discussion document:

Document on US ratios (Page 3)


US public transport crisis

Wellington commuters hit

North Shore council warning

Auckland City concern

New farebox  policy emerges




  1. James Pole says:

    Wearing my devil’s advocate hat, I have to ask why the US being is cited as an example of why we should accept a lower farebox recovery ratio? The US doesn’t have many good public transport system, so we shouldn’t be looking to emulate them.

    We should look instead at cities and/or countries with successful public transport system and see what sort of farebox recovery system they have there.

    Besides fares does not need to raise in order to increase the ratio. The ratio could increase by withdrawing services that attract low number of passengers and hence drag the farebox recovery ratio down below 50%.

  2. Jeremy Harris says:

    Well getting electric trains should increase Auckland’s farebox recovery significantly… Just another of Joyce’s subtle death by a thousand cuts to anything but cars…

  3. max says:

    Well, if the Green’s comments are right, then it appears that at over 40% we are already doing quite well.

    “by withdrawing services that attract low number of passengers and hence drag the farebox recovery ratio down below 50%.”

    A potentially short-sighted measure, especially if the cuts are driven by “where can we cut COSTS” rather than by “where can we remove INEFFICIENCY”. If you cut services and frequencies, you have a flow-on effect. Stopping services that officially or inofficially act as feeder services harms the better performing routes too. Cutting off-peak services makes PT a less attractive service for everyone, because if you end up stuck in town for longer than expected, you are stuffed - so some of those peak time customers also leave etc…

    Seriously, if they get the gun put to their heads by National/NZTA, I’d suggest they rather raise the fares than cut services.

  4. James Pole says:

    Cutting services with good patronage due to high frequency would actually make the farebox recovery worse. Hence I doubt that cuts would occur to high frequency routes — if indeed the goal would be to bring the farebox recovery to above 50%.

    Cuts will more likely happen to routes which often carry only a handful of passengers — since these routes obviously runs at a massive loss.

    One example of a route which should be scrapped, which I’m shocked still operates to this date, is the 770/771 loop service between Newmarket and St Heliers. I often see this service run with no passengers on board — which is a absolute waste of resources. And the passengers that do board this service often travel to places already well served by other well utilized routes.

  5. max says:

    “Cuts will more likely happen to routes which often carry only a handful of passengers — since these routes obviously runs at a massive loss.”

    James, I agree with you there, BUT this should be done to improve services, not primarily driven by a totally arbitrary (and apparently world-wide exemplary high) target.

    Also, as noted - if kicking a route that has only 500 passengers a day removes another 100-200 on the profitable routes, do the planners calculate that? Or do they only, years later, ask themselves where their patronage went?

  6. rtc says:

    Why aren’t we looking to cities such as Zurich with what is arguably one of the best PT systems in the world. In this city the push is towards a farebox recover of 0% i.e. all public transport is free. This is already the case in several other Swiss cities.

    This is also the city that is consistently rated as the number 1 city in the world in terms of quality of life. What USA city that National seems to want to model NZ on has come anywhere close to the top 10 in these studies and what city could even argue to have a great PT system. Not many if any.

  7. rtc says:

    Considering every submission was against this policy, including ACC’s and ARC’s, this just goes to show NZTA and Joyce are doing whatever they dam well please and demonstrates that this whole submission process is a complete and utter waste of time. National will do what they want to destroy PT and it doesn’t matter what anyone says.

  8. Jeremy Harris says:

    It is possible that this could set off a chain reaction of higher fares causing reduced ridership meaning reduced farebox ratios then less services in a downward spiral…

  9. James Pole says:

    Cutting unprofitable routes would release more resources to allow more frequent services on other routes — this could lead to the increase in revenue/patronage from the strengthened routes being greater than the loss in revenue/patronage from the former route.

    Hence it is possible for an increase in farebox recovery, without increasing fares and also improving services. Which should be done anyway despite a farebox recovery policy.

    Your point RE connections from other services is well noted, however as a regular PT user in Auckland I have come across several route with limited service which can be withdrawn without much impact on end-users since the more busier routes offer better services (even if there is a connection involved).

    Auckland need to move toward a model where there is less routes; more frequent services on the routes that remain (using resources previously allocated to unviable routes); and ticketing systems that allow passengers to transfer to different routes when necessary to complete their trip.

  10. Jeremy Harris says:

    The system in Auckland James means that if a route is profitable NZ Bus (or similiar) keeps the profits and if unprofitable the ARC subsidises them, the only way the council can meet this farebox target is to cut services or raise fares…


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