Why there is free public transport this Friday

travel 18/12/2018

Public transport will be free on Friday afternoon throughout Auckland, the council has announced.

Auckland Transport (AT) will be taking a hit by turning off its tagging machines on buses and trains, starting from 4pm.

Early responses to the initiative have been overwhelmingly positive, but Mayor Phil Goff has revealed the move is about more than just saving people money.

The real reason for the initiative is predominantly safety, Mr Goff says, as the Friday before Christmas is one of the worst days annually for drink-driving.

"We're working w/ Police to reduce that and one key initiative is to provide free public transport on Friday so that people all across Auckland can get home safe for xmas," he wrote on Twitter.

At 4pm on Friday, the gates at train stations will be opened and Hop Card tagging machines on buses will be turned off. AT says commuters will only get free travel if their journey begins before that point.

AT Group Manager Metro Service Delivery Stacey Van Der Putten says the initiative came about after discussions with police.

"If we can provide a free, easy public transport journey home, then it means there's no need to drive at all," she says.

"You can a have a drink after work, and you don't even have to think about the car, just get the bus or the train."

Tamaki Makaurau Road Policing Manager Inspector Scott Webb says crashes related to drink-driving always pick up during the festive season.

"If you are in any doubt at all about being safe or legal to drive after drinking - don't drive," Insp Webb says.

"It's vital you look after your mates. Make sure you have a plan to get home safely."