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22nd of October 2018

Politics



Auckland mayor Phil Goff suggests free tram travel on Queen St

Mayor Phil Goff wants free travel for passengers on Queen Street's planned new trams to be considered.

The Government announced in May two tram routes were planned in Auckland, one of which will travel the length of Queen St on its way to Auckland Airport.

Goff told the Weekend Herald he hoped passengers could ride for free on Queen St, but it would be up to those running the service to decide.

He got the idea after seeing the same system working well in Melbourne.

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"It seems to work for them, so why don't you look at it? It's an option," Goff said

The tender process for the trams, which could cost up to $6 billion, is being led by the New Zealand Transport Agency with support from the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the council's transport arm - the intended operator of light rail in Auckland - was working closely with the agency and its partners on the airport line.

"It's early days and details around fare structures are still to be determined."

Goff said if the project was a public-private partnership that could complicate any push for free travel on Queen St.

Bus passengers previously travelled free in downtown Auckland, including Queen St, on the City Link Bus. That was funded by central city business association Heart of the City.

Greater Auckland director Matt Lawrie said there was "probably a justification" for encouraging people around the city by offering free Queen St travel.

Transfers between trains and buses were already free in downtown Auckland, and in future people could travel to the planned underground Aotea Station without paying extra if they were already on the train.

Planning committee chairman Chris Darby said he would rather the whole network was considered before any decision was made.

"If there was any area I'd like to be free or more heavily subsidised it would be for our young people. If you can attract a user to public transport young they're more likely to be users for life."

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