Left-leaning Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins says a push for fare-free public transport will be the first thing he wants to achieve if elected in October.
Fare-free public transport will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one kilogram as transport is within the emissions trading scheme. It will just force Auckland residents to pay a lot more in rates so companies that produce greenhouse gas emissions can pay less for them.
The idea is not new to an Auckland mayoral campaign. Jim Anderton in 1977 had it as a policy when he came second to sitting Auckland City Council mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson.
In the last full financial year before Covid-19 hit patronage hard, fare revenue was worth more than $150 million a year, and an earlier Auckland Transport assessment was that extra demand would cost $60m to meet.
The $60 million is a conservative estimate. Free travel on Waiheke ferries alone will probably chew up $15 million or so (off peak travel for seniors costs $2 million so travel for anyone at anytime would easily exceed $10 million). Every day thousands will flock to Waiheke if it is free.
The average residential rates are $3,599 in Auckland so the cost of this initial promise by Collins would see rates increase by 12%. They’re already planning a rates increase of at least 6% so basically what Collins is promising is to hike up rates by 20%.