NEW ZEALAND— Ryan Hooper-Smith from public transport campaign Free Fares NZ is calling for free public transport in Aotearoa.

It comes as the government announced 50% off public transport fares for three months starting on April 1 in response to rising petrol costs, but Hooper-Smith said the Government needs to be doing more.

Free Fares NZ gained more than 13,000 signatures on a petition presented to the Government asking to make public transport free for students, community service card holders, under 25s and low income earners.

Hooper-Smith told Breakfast “we thought that a campaign pushing for something like free public transport is quite radical so we’re going to see and push back but surprisingly a lot of people are in favour of it”.

“You know ultimately when you put out a campaign that’s calling for the Government to support low income people, under 25s, tertiary students, community service card holders, people resonate with that, they understand that things are really expensive at the moment and that our lowest income people are being hit the most and that they ultimately need support from the Government, and this is what we’re calling for.”

A bus in Wellington.A bus in Wellington. (Source:


Greater Auckland advocacy website’s editor Matt Lowrie also told Breakfast reliability and frequency are the most important elements to look at when encouraging people to use public transport, but with that comes the need for more money.

“It’s very very hard for Auckland Transport, for Greater Wellington Regional Council for example and other councils around the country to get the funding that they need to provide better services.”

Hooper-Smith said he recognises the public transport sector needs better infrastructure and further investment but ultimately the key focus is supporting low income earners.

“It’s about providing money to them [low income earners] and providing them free public transport so that actually they don’t have to choose between you know a loaf of bread and an extra trip on the train to make it into work,” he said.

“This is actually affecting real people and this is a genuine problem where public transport is not accessible enough, it’s not affordable and quite frankly it’s not good enough and we think the Government needs to be doing more in this space.”