Government changes to funding of SuperGold card journeys by elderly bus users is raising concerns of Waikato Regional Council having to seek funding from other sources if public transport service levels are to be maintained.
Currently, central Government pays for all off-peak journeys by SuperGold card holders but it has now decided to put a cap on the amount it will fund. The funding formula has yet to be finalised.
While card user entitlements won’t change, the decision has raised the prospect of the council getting less SuperGold card-related revenue in future than anticipated, meaning potential for other sources of revenue being needed to cover any shortfall.
“It’s too soon to say exactly what the impact of the changes will be in the Waikato,” said finance committee chairwoman Jane Hennebry, following a briefing on the issue to the committee.
“But the issue is particularly relevant given recently released data talking of significant population growth in Waikato, with an increasing proportion of elderly people.”
Last financial year there were more than 420,000 bus boardings by SuperGold card holders in the region, with the council receiving reimbursement of more than $815,000 from the Government.
“Our advice currently is that the financial risk to the region of the change is relatively low. But estimates are not insignificant and raise a general concern about how we might have to replace any revenue we lose as a result of the changes,” Cr Hennebry said.
“The council will be monitoring the situation closely and making representations to Government if we feel the Waikato is being unfairly disadvantaged.”