With all the excitement of the AT Hop card implementation on 28th October, it seems the Family Pass has been forgotten about.
Sure, the Maxx website is still advertising the $24 daily pass:
Unlimited train travel. Available after 9.00am on weekdays and anytime on the weekends and public holidays. Family consists of 1 adult and up to 5 children or 2 adults and up to 4 children travelling together. (Note: the group must include at least one child aged under 16 without ID, or between 16 and 19 years with a valid Student ID card)
This is the ideal ticket for families to experience public transport on the weekend – a time when there is heaps of spare capacity on most services.
But associated with the AT Hop rollout, the Family Pass is now only available from manned stations – Britomart, New Lynn and Newmarket.
Yes that’s right – you can’t get the ticket from the new Thales vending machines, or on board the train.
This policy discriminates against any family that doesn’t live near the three stations mentioned. For instance a family of 5 wanting to travel from the new Manukau Station to Britomart return will have to pay ($6.80 x 2) + ($4 x 3) = $25.60 x 2 = $51.20 return! The same family of 5 going from Britomart to Manukau return could get the $24 family pass.
Incidentally, Sydney offers the Family Funday Sunday where, for $2.50 per person, your family can enjoy a fun day out with unlimited travel on Sydney’s buses, trains, light rail and ferries every Sunday.
This is where Auckland should be heading too. $24 should cover not only the rail network but buses and ferries. As it stands at the moment, families are charged another $26 to use NZ Bus’ Family Bus About pass.
With all the excitement about the Hop card, it is inexplicable that group passes appear to have been completely overlooked. A simple alternative could be kids travel free on the weekend accompanied by an adult using the Hop card. Presumably AT will have to cope with this scenario for kids under 5, so why not just raise the allowable age of accompanying kids to 16?
Off peak travel really is the low hanging fruit for boosting public transport. I’m not proposing increasing weekend service levels, I’m merely suggesting that it is better to get some revenue to help farebox recovery, rather than no revenue at all from families that don’t live near one of the three stations that issue family passes.
You suspect that Auckland Transport really aren’t serious about providing off-peak public transport services. Ponder that when you are stuck in a traffic jam over the weekend.
Come on Auckland Transport – please sort this out by the time the Santa Parade comes to town.