By Nikki Papatsoumas
The Green Party has announced it will offer free public transport to all tertiary students ahead of this year’s general elections.
As part of the policy, the party announced it would launch a youth ‘Green Card’ which would provide universal, 24/7, free public transport for everyone under the age of 19, and free off-peak public transport for tertiary students at university, polytechnic, wānanga, private training establishments, and people training through apprenticeships.
All people with a disability on the supported living benefit will also be eligible for free public transport.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Jonathan Gee says that free public transport for students puts the country one step closer to a tertiary education free of unfair barriers.
‘Students are telling us that after paying for rent, they barely have enough to cover other basic needs like getting to class,” he says.
“Students can’t succeed if they can’t afford to get to class, so any policy which improves student mobility is a step in the right direction’”.
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) has long campaigned for a student discount on public transport in the Wellington region, including lobbying the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin says students are telling the association that the cost of getting to class is so high that they’re skipping class.
“This is backed by lecturers who have seen their class numbers drop as the cost of living for students grows each year,” he says.
“Having student fares on public transport is the norm for most major cities around the world, so these policies would bring us a step closer to competing globally for more people to live, study and go on to work in New Zealand.”