OraTaiao has joined the Free Fares Coalition – the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity. In support of their campaign to make public transport free for all under-25s, tertiary students, Community Services Card holders, and Total Mobility Card holders and their support people, OraTaiao spokesperson and Occupational Therapist Romelli Rodriguez-Jolly was able to give a one minute oral submission to Parliament's Petitions Committee. Click on the title of this article for a transcript of the submission.
My name is Romelli Rodriguez-Jolly. I am a registered Occupational Therapist and I’m representing OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health council. We are a membership organisation of over 1000 health professionals and health sector workers advocating for action on climate change that creates equitable health outcomes. We have recently joined the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity.
The way we structure and run transport systems impacts population and planetary health. OraTaiao believes that making public transport accessible for all is a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions and facilitating the health co-benefits that safe and accessible active transport create. Reducing fare cost is necessary for this.
Health co-benefits of accessible public transport include:
- Less respiratory illness e.g. asthma due to decreased car emissions
- Increased opportunities for exercise, physical movement, and equitable social participation
- Transport to access healthcare services, and affordability of other expenses that contribute to health and wellbeing e.g. medical care, nutritious food, rest and restorative activity.
- The creation of safer streets and freeing up of public space that is currently used for public storage of private vehicles.
- Decreased carbon emissions to protect planetary health which we depend on for our survival.
On a personal note, not only have I now transitioned to using public transport for most of my journeys, but in my work in mental health services, I have seen the beneficial impact that half price fares have had for the people I work with.
(Note that the Free Coalition has now launched a new campaign to keep half-price fares for everyone, for good: