People aged 18 and under will soon be able to travel on Hamilton’s bus network for free during weekends.
During its meeting today Hamilton City Council today voted 11-1 to support a phased approach to develop and implement a youth concession for public transport in the city.
The one-year trial will include free bus travel within Hamilton on weekends and public holidays, starting 1 July 2019.
The estimated cost of the initiative is being covered by $25,000 from existing Council budgets, and $25,000 from Waikato Regional Council.
The Council’s City Transportation Unit Manager, Jason Harrison, says funds from the Council’s parking revenue will be used to offset costs associated with the free youth rides.
The move, which is hoped to encourage long-term public transport behaviour change, is expected to see an increase in demand on all weekend bus services in the city.
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King says: “Many people tell me they don’t like seeing empty buses on the road.
“So, let’s full them up, let’s take cars off the road, let’s help the environment, let’s make buses free.
“Hamilton will be the first Council and the first city to do this and I think we can be very proud of that. I also want to remind the public that a month later our disabled community will also get to ride buses at anytime, anywhere in the Waikato, for no charge to them.”
“Late last year I announced the council desire to introduce free buses for 18 and under. I am pleased to see Auckland Council Mayor Phill Goff follow our footsteps, announcing in April free buses for under 15s for Auckland.”
Youth will have to present their student ID to access this service. It is also hoped a youth ID process will be implemented in July for those under 18 who don’t readily have a student ID available.
All data captured during the 12-month trial will be applied to a future business case to develop and implement a youth concession that could see reduced weekday youth fares, and eventually free youth travel at all times.
Waikato Regional Council is responsible for contracting and providing bus services in Hamilton.