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Published: 2013-12-03 00:00:00

Bus fares on the Taupō Connector service will rise in the New Year to bring them in line with other regional routes.

The annual review of fares for the region’s public transport network was considered by Waikato Regional Council in its meeting last Thursday. 

The council decided against an across-the-board fare increase on its bus services, instead agreeing agreed to adjust fares on three regional services in the New Year, including on the Taupō Connector. 

The council heard that fares only cover about 15 per cent of the cost of the Taupō Connector service compared with the regional average of about 36 per cent. Taupō Connector passengers also pay the lowest fares for the number of kilometres travelled. 

So, from 1 January 2014 fares will rise to bring them in line with ticketing prices around the region. 

Adult fares will be $2 cash and $1.50 with a BUSIT card, while a child fare will be $1.50 cash and $1 with a BUSIT card. 

Return-plus fares will also rise to $3 cash and $2.50 with a BUSIT card for an adult, and to $2.20 cash and $2 with a BUSIT card for a child. 

“These price adjustments are necessary to ensure continued funding support from the NZ Transport Agency and to keep regional farebox recovery targets on track,” said council chairperson, Paula Southgate. 

“Taupō passengers are still receiving good value for money and, even with the increase, will still be paying the lowest fares in the region,” Ms Southgate said. 

The cost of operating Waikato’s buses is partly covered by fares, with the rest split equally between the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and the regional or district councils. 

The NZTA has set farebox recovery targets of 36 per cent by 2014 and 40 per cent by 2017 for the Waikato, with regular fare increases over the past three years helping the regional council to meet the 2014 Government target. 

In July a revised timetable was introduced on the Taupō Connector to improve patronage and reliability, with the route also being modified to include Wairakei and Huka Falls.