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Friday, 26 April 2019 07:41 am

Student fare discount funding “question of prioritisation”

Sep 29th, 2016 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, Most Popular, News

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Mayoral candidates give Newswire their views. Photo credit: Amy McEwan.

Funding for discounts on student transport in Wellington needs to be made a priority, says Justin Lester – but other mayoral candidates are more wary of backing the idea.

Universities need to contribute and items should be cut from the budget, they said, in response to questions at a NewsWire press conference this week.

Six mayoral candidates fronted questions a week and a half out from the close of voting.

Wellington student transport discounts were among the issues up for debate.

Lester says if the regional council say it’s unaffordable for them, then the city council has to step up.

“It’s a question of prioritisation for the regional council, and likewise for the senior council,” he says.

Wellington City Council has $460 million a year to spend.

“Ultimately we have to determine where that goes and what the priorities are.”

Nick Leggett says he approached the regional council to persuade them to introduce student fares.

He says they came back and said they would be willing to, if they could also have a contribution from Victoria and Massey universities.

“I’m prepared to consider the city contributing alongside the universities and working together to get student concession fares,” he says.

Andy Foster says the city can’t just keep adding things to the budget.

“The blunt truth is there’s no magic money tree.  You’ve actually got to take stuff out.”

He says ratepayers need to be transparent about what the budget would look like, and what they are willing to cut.

“That’s the question I think ratepayers need to ask – what they want out.”

Students have been rallying for transport discounts in the capital for years.

The issue was brought to attention again after a Victoria University student started a Facebook petition earlier this year.

Although the petition gained 3500 signatures, a subsequent proposal at the GWRC annual plan meeting was struck down.

Students and councillors alike believe this is not good enough.

“It is unacceptable that if we are trying to double the number of students in this city over the next decade, that we’re the only university town in the country that doesn’t have student discounts,” says Foster.

Lester agrees. “I think this is important to be a student-friendly city.”

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