The furore over possible cuts to the Supergold card signaled by Transport minister Steven Joyce may have died down but the threat has not gone away.
Despite an election promise to keep the scheme as it is the Ministry and New Zealand Transport Agency are looking at options to reign in the popular scheme.
More than 500,000 New Zealanders aged over 65 hold the cards, which entitle them to a range of discounts on goods and services, as well as free off-peak travel on urban bus and rail services and some ferry services.
Off-peak means between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday and after 6.30pm, plus all day on weekends and public holidays.
The entitlements cost taxpayers about $18 million a year, but transport officials have warned the Government that the budget is set to blow out because of increasing patronage.
While the minister seems to be backing away from the threat of cuts the most bizarre aspect of this was that cuts were even contemplated in the first place.
The Supergold Card has been a huge success story, particularly in the Wellington region, and is very well used in Kāpiti. The benefits from the mobility it provides are significant in health terms.
Thoughts of cutting it are akin to cutting education funding because going to school has become more popular. (Although many tertiary providers would argue that is actually happening as well).
The same minister is the bloke who stood in front of KCDC and said “money is not a problem” in reference to building an expressway through Kāpiti as part of an $11billion plan. I will repeat that. $11billion. And yet they can think about making cuts to an $18 million scheme that works very well. March madness must be truly upon us.
The users of the Supergold card were people who built this country and paid vast amounts of tax in the process. The message from the public must be loud and clear. Leave the Supergold card scheme alone unless you intend to increase it.
Meanwhile it is congratulations to the Kāpiti Community Recreational Turf Trust who will celebrate the first anniversary of the Turf facility at Mazengarb Reserve on Friday.
New Trust chair, Roger Sowry, says since its opening a year ago the Turf has proved to be a valuable asset to players of many different codes including hockey, soccer and touch. Over 1000 people use the facility each week during winter.no