Buried beneath all the kefuffle around tax cuts and other high-flying, highly political items is one wee gem that I’m glad snuck through, and under the radar.

Free off-peak public transport for retirees.

Now, Poneke is still working, so he’s obviously not as stoked as I am about this one, but it’s still something someone like himself (who uses a lot of public transport) should be pleased with. Personally I’m stoked about it because it’s a way I can see my taxes going to someone I know, and directly contributing to making their life a little easier.

Second Chef’s parent’s are both retired, and both live here in Wellington, but out in the hills. Her grandmother on the other hand lives on the flat, and it’s a fair old hike between the two places. Consequently Second Chef’s parents spend something like $80 a week on buses getting to and fro, and that’s a large amount of money in anyone’s books.

So as of [the day this promise actually happens] they’ll be able to travel out to see granma without slowly bankrupting themselves!

As I say, I’m stoked at this initiative. The elderly as always at risk of social isolation, and something as simple as free off-peak travel can make a very large difference to their ability to socialise not only with their family, but with each other. In fact… that’s probably a blog in itself. We need more elderly people mixed into our communities. Too often they’re isolated into their cohorts and kept away from the younger generations.

Anyway, I’m wandering off into about how tying a onion to your belt was the fashion at the time. The short of the story is that this is a good, and simple, idea that should have been thought of before.

Second Chef’s parents are still highly mobile (in fact, you could barely call them “elderly”), but her Granma is not. That $78million will be making the lives of a lot of older New Zealanders a heck of a lot easier… Subsidising public transport, increasing it’s usage, and hopefully leading to its improvement is probably a secondary benefit!