Integrated Ticketing Update

Auckland Transport have just done a media release:

Auckland Transport today announced a key development in the region’s Integrated Ticketing system will be introduced early next year which will allow people to use a single “smart-card” on public transport in Auckland.

Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton said, “Supplementing the contract already in place with Thales, a Participation Agreement has now been signed between Auckland Transport, NZ Bus and Snapper for the introduction of a single smartcard for use on NZ Bus services as part of the Auckland Integrated Ticketing program.

“Interoperable equipment will be deployed onto services run by NZ Bus early next year. Customers of North Star, Waka Pacific, Go West, Metrolink and LINK will use a contactless smartcard which will launch Auckland Transport’s Integrated Ticketing brand.”

Dr Warburton said, “We will be following the deployment of equipment on NZ Bus services with the expansion of Integrated Ticketing on rail and ferry services. We expect the timing for this to be in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup.

“This will be linked to the launch of a travel product specifically for visitors to Auckland which will make public transport an attractive option during the period of the Rugby World Cup. We will be announcing further details of this and other initiatives over the coming months.

“Supporting this participation agreement for bus equipment and ticket deployment, Auckland Transport’s ticketing system partner, Thales is progressing the development of the rail and ferry solutions and the central system”.

Peter Beggs, Country Director, Thales New Zealand said, “As the core ticketing system provider (central system, rail and ferry), Thales welcomes the participation of other suppliers in providing the bus solution for the system…”

I was at the (poorly attended)  media conference. In attendance:
  • David Warburton (Auckland Transport CEO)
  • Bruce Emson (NZ Bus CEO)
  • Mick Spiers (Thales Programme Manager)
  • Miki Szikzai (Snapper CEO)
  • Greg Ellis (Auckland Transport AIFS Programme Manager)

Other bus operators were not there.

The guts of it is that Snapper and the Auckland NZ Bus rollout has officially been brought into the AIFS project. Mick Spiers said that the Snapper card will integrate with the Thales designed back end system.

The Snapper card is apparently going to be branded as the integrated ticket – they didn’t mention “Hop” card branding.

Mick Spiers said that Thales is focussing on implementing validator hardware for selected train stations and the Auckland and Devonport ferry terminals. He didn’t specifically say that they rail and ferry validators would support the Snapper card though.

I asked if there was going to be any rationalisation of the different ticketing products such as multi-journey. The answer from David Warburton was today’s announcement is stage 1, and that rationalisation will occur at a later stage. This is the wrong approach in my opinion. Products such as multi-journey tickets with preset numbers of stages just do not work with a tag on / tag off system. The only reason MJ exists is because tertiary students get a 40% discount when they use it.

Other bus operators were not present. They are “at different stages of understanding”. I’m curious to know what they think and if they are going to use the Snapper card or the Thales card (if this is still going ahead). I asked if this meant that there is still the potential for two different cards to have to be carried. Greg Ellis said that the key objective is to have one card across all modes. I’m still struggling to see how the card can be anything but the Snapper card at this point, given the Snapper and Thales cards are different technologies, but for now I guess we take this at face value.

Bottom line is that there doesn’t seem to be much new here, and there are still more questions than answers.  I’m really hanging out for the new fare structures as I was hoping that after a year this would have been thought about.  Kudos to NZ Bus if they can pull off the Snapper implementation in the first quarter of next year, especially if they have to support the existing ticket types.

Mathew Dearnaley asked for a list of milestones for the project because, as he said, the project has been going for a year now and it has been hard to know what has been going on.

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