Card campaign for cheaper Wellington student fares
MORE students will vote in local body elections if they receive discounts at libraries, pools and on the bus, says Victoria University’s student president.
A campaign for half price bus fares for his members is currently being pushed among university students.
The fares are part of drive for closer relationships between students and councils, says Rory McCourt (above), president of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association.
“This I think goes a long way towards our vision for Wellington, which is a city that attracts and retains talent,” he says Mr McCourt,
Mr McCourt, who was elected last year, has a vision for the city.
“This is the place that values students, that values student welfare, students being able to get to school, not in the rain walking three hours but taking a bus.”
Mr McCourt says many students in outlying areas such as Porirua are unable to head into town at the end of the week because they can’t afford it.
VUWSA is considering a number of options to strengthen its relationship with the city council.
The majority of students did not vote in the last local body elections, and Mr McCourt wants to change this.
“We know that can only happen if we have a more connected student body,” he says.
One proposal is to make the VUWSA membership card work in a similar way to the council’s leisure card, which entitles the holder to discounts at council recreational facilities.
Anyone with a Community Services card is entitled to also apply for a leisure card, but Mr McCourt says many students are unaware of this.
He says integrating the services would make things simpler for all concerned.
“If you turn up to the pools you’ll get 50% off or something.
“We want to make sure all students are getting full access to that, so then the student who goes to the pools and uses the council library is actually much more likely to vote for councillors.”
The students’ association is also considering changes to its food bank system which would encourage students to participate in civic activities.
“So the community pantry for example, if you come to get a food parcel there maybe you’d be asked to volunteer at a community garden.”
Mr McCourt is hoping to develop an official memorandum of understanding with the Wellington City Council.
“It’s still in progress, we’re hoping to work with the council on fair fares first, we’ll show that it can work.”
Councillor Andy Foster leads the city council transport portfolio, and says while the council is happy to talk to students they also have concerns.
“If they paid less other people would have to pay more,” he says.
Councillor Peter Glensor is deputy chair of the regional council’s transport committee, and says there are problems with giving students a specific discount.
“There’s only one city in New Zealand that offers publicly funded discounts for students and that’s Auckland.
“It has been spectacularly successful, so much so they’re thinking of reducing it.”
Mr Glensor says tertiary bus discounts were introduced in Auckland because very few students were using public transport, and the situation in Wellington is different.
He raised concerns about whether a student bus fare could end up diverting money to people who may not need it.
“What about the many people in quite well paid jobs who are doing a few papers at university?”
Mr Glensor says the regional council is considering a variety of changes to public transport and would welcome student submissions.