June 27, 2016
There appears to be some confusion around the Federation’s policy concerning the introduction of electronic ticketing as part of the Government’s changes to Super Gold Card travel funding. This confusion has been increased by the independent action of some associations, which have unfortunately worked against our national policy which is; continued access by all SuperGold card holders to free off peak public transport anywhere in the country.
When we raised this with the Minister last November we were given his assurance that SuperGold cardholders will continue to access the Scheme as they could prior to the recent review of the scheme. Recent developments with Auckland Transport where the new scheme is being rolled out first, have seriously undermined that undertaking with the introduction of a charge to SuperGold card holders for an electronic ticket and the requirement to pre loading of these with $10, a total outlay per person of $15. In other words, SuperGold card holders will have to pay Auckland Transport to get a free Government funded ride on their buses.
We have alerted Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges and Senior Citizens Minister Hon Maggie Barry that the Auckland Transport scheme destroys the concept of free off peak travel as promised to us by Government and sets a dangerous precedent for other areas of the country. We have also attempted to discuss the matter with Auckland Transport, but they have refused to engage with us. It is clear that Auckland Transport cannot implement the changes by the required date and we have assurances from the Tramways Union that their members will continue to accept Gold Cards on buses. Clearly a failure of their system would help our case in convincing the Government to step in and direct Auckland Transport to re-think their approach. Unfortunately, Grey Power associations in Auckland, through their Zone Two office holders, have been working to assist Auckland Transport to introduce their scheme, contrary to Federation policy.
The Federation has also been pursuing the idea of converting the SGC to a smart card that would have the potential to act as an electronic ticket for transport systems. This is a long term goal, and while neither the Government nor the Ministry of Transport has ruled this out, it will take some time and a lot of work to get it done. At the same time a group of associations, again without Federation direct involvement, have set up a petition to Parliament to have the SuperGold card adapted as a smart card and an official ID. Although these initiatives, are commendable, it does create problems for the Federation if they are uncoordinated. The simple principle is that national issues, once they have been given to the Federation Board at an AGM by the nation-wide membership, should be left to the Federation to manage. Local issues can be taken on by associations and coordinated by zones but national issues must be left to the Federation to organise if we are to achieve anything at all. As it is our efforts with the SuperGold card travel issues have been seriously compromised.
We have been in regular contact with senior Government Ministers and we have high level meetings with them planned in the near future. We achieve much more this way than public demonstrations and petitions which only serve to create publicity opportunities for politicians. Those members who want to be involved in our national work and campaigns are more than welcome to assist, but need to work through the designated campaign leader. To interfere, even with the best of intentions, in national issues can jeopardise a lot of hard work.
Former National President
Grey Power Federation