Where has the Family Rail Pass Gone?

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The new AT Hop card is finally being rolled out on October 28th, but what is happening with the Family Pass?

The Maxx website is still advertising the $24 daily pass:

Unlimited train travel. Available after 9.00am on weekdays and anytime on the weekends and public holidays. Family consists of 1 adult and up to 5 children or 2 adults and up to 4 children travelling together. (Note: the group must include at least one child aged under 16 without ID, or between 16 and 19 years with a valid Student ID card)

But associated with the rollout, this is now only available from manned stations – Britomart, New Lynn and Newmarket. You can’t get the ticket from the new Thales vending machines.

This is ridiculous – no family will be able to afford a day out by train.

And this policy disadvantages any family that doesn’t live near the three stations mentioned. For instance a family of 5 wanting to travel from the new Manukau Station to Britomart return will have to pay  ($6.80 x 2) + ($4 x 3) = $25.60 x 2 = $51.20 return!  The same family of 5 going from Britomart to Manukau return could get the $24 family pass.

Incidentally, Sydney offers the Family Funday Sunday where,  for $2.50 per person, your family can enjoy a fun day out with unlimited travel on Sydney’s buses, trains, light rail and ferries every Sunday.

Come on Auckland Transport – please sort this out by the time the Santa Parade comes to town.


Just Get It In

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Our call to roll out the Thales ticketing solution to trains and ferries has been reported by the Herald:

“This is a $98 million project which has been going on for three years – they need to get it in.”

He said Auckland Transport was losing too much revenue on increasingly crowded trains under its paper ticketing system, which would be stemmed by electronic gates at main stations under the new scheme.

Trains suffered a 5.5 per cent fall in patronage last month compared with June of last year, and a 2.9 per cent decline in May.

But Mr Pitches feared branding would be a serious problem, given that Snapper had the Hop imprint on its bus cards, leading to confusion if train and ferry passengers were issued with rival tickets bearing the same name.

The dispute with Snapper shouldn’t delay things any further than it has.

Snapper Refute Allegations

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Snapper have responded to the alleged breaches of the Auckland integrated ticketing participation agreement with a press release available on Scoop.

On 18th June 2012, Snapper received a notice from Auckland Transport, alleging various breaches of the participation agreement and a claim for damages. The basis of these claims has not been clarified and the notice incorporates a number of significant errors and inaccuracies. Infratil and Snapper strongly refute the allegations made and we will make our response to the detailed claims known as appropriate.

The release contains a useful outline of the players involved, and also calls into question the readiness of another supplier, Parkeon.

Hop Card Legal Action

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As covered over at Transportblog, the lawyers have been called in in order to get Snapper to make their system fully compliant with the Hop system. Let’s hope this can be sorted out without further delay.

When The Bus Fails to Arrive

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There is nothing more frustrating than waiting at a wet bus stop for a bus that never arrives.  That happened this morning to me with the 024.

I probably should complain to the Maxx call centre but I really can’t be bothered, because:

  • I have to wait for 10 days before I get a response
  • I can predict the answer – late running for the previous service, driver sick etc, etc.
  • There is no confirmation that the problem won’t happen again

What I really want is some kind of compensation for the inconvenience. I’m aware that bus operators are financially penalised for a late running service, but this doesn’t help the hapless commuter that is half an hour late for work. Penalties are paid to Auckland Transport – wouldn’t it be better if the actual customers were compensated?

With the advent of the Hop card and the ability to top up online, surely now there is the ability to compensate the people that are inconvenienced by the delay or no-show of a service.  I’m thinking a flat rate of $5 should just about cover it, credited to my Hop card from Auckland Transport. This will incentivise people to phone in and complain, and hopefully we can even get some stats on the number of complaints and the amount of compensation paid to customers.

In the monthly reports, bus operators and Auckland Transport and the bus operators claim 99% reliability, so let’s see them put their money where their mouth is.

Snapper the New Brand for Auckland’s Integrated Ticket?

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Despite the press conference before Christmas where it was claimed that the new integrated ticket in Auckland wouldn’t be called Snapper,   and the Herald revealing a $1m publicity budget for the Hop Card, Snapper branding appears to be rolling out in Auckland anyway:

Snapper Car on Khyber Pass

The latest Infratil monthly report states that

Preparation is well advanced on bus fleets of North Star, Waka Pacific, Go West and Metrolink and Snapper is engaged with Auckland Transport to ensure coordination between both party’s customer service teams. Snapper will be available in April 2011, with installation completed by July 2011.

In Auckland over 80 shops now signed to accept Snapper for payment and to provide reload services. The objective of having Snapper available for use on major national branded outlets is also progressing.

So it looks like the cars are being used to roll out to the retailers. Still no word on when Auckland Transport’s Hop branding exercise will commence.

For those not quite up to speed on how integrated ticketing is progressing in Auckland, here is the timeline so far:

2 December 2009: On the eve of the confirmation of an integrated ticketing system for Auckland public transport, unsuccessful tenderer Snapper announces the rollout of Snapper on NZ Bus services, to be completed by the end of 2010. A spokeswoman for ARTA said there would be no public funding for Snapper. Authority chief executive Fergus Gammie called Snapper’s announcement “premature”.

7 December 2009: Auckland Regional Transport Authority sign an $47m contract with Thales to provide integrated electronic ticketing for buses, trains and ferries.

14 December 2009: Brian Rudman cites a confidential paper from Infratil director Paul Ridley-Smith, which states “if Snapper can’t expand into Auckland then its business will be permanently sub-economic and it may have to withdraw from Wellington, where it was introduced 12 months ago.”

16 December 2010: Auckland Transport announce that “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.”

“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.

Bruce Emson, NZ Bus CEO, announces the roll out of the card will commence in March 2011. Programme Director Greg Ellis maintains that the key objective is still to have one card across all modes, and that the new card won’t be called Snapper.

17 December 2010: Ritchies and Howick and Eastern Buses say they are still investigating options, and are unlikely to sign up in time for the Rugby World Cup.

24 December 2010: The Herald runs a story that there is a budget of $1m to publicise the “Hop Card”, which is a “a new electronic ticket for seamless travel on buses, trains and ferries. It refuses to confirm the name until launching an awareness campaign late next month for the $98 million card, although chief operating officer Fergus Gammie has assured Auckland Council’s transport committee that the region’s public transport brand would be prominent on it.”

25 Jan 2011: Work on installation of Thales installed ticket validator machines commences at Mt Albert, Morningside and Mt Eden stations.

Someone Will Be Back To You In Ten Days

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I’m a big fan of continuous improvement. Any business looking for opportunities to lift their game, should be soliciting feedback from customers - it’s an important part of business. Customers need to be actively incentivised to provide feedback, and the feedback mechanism should be straightforward and rewarding.

This morning the 024 8:00am service didn’t show. I phoned Max (09 3666 400) and gave them the details. I also let them know that the service was also late yesterday.  The pleasant call centre rep on the line took all the details to “pass on to the operator”. She asked if I would like feedback on my complaint. I said yes (Well, of course! I don’t want the bus to be late tomorrow and I want to know that the operator is aware of the problem and is doing something about it.). So I gave my number and just before I hung up the call centre rep told me someone will be back to me in ten days.  I thought I had misheard, but yes, the turnaround time for responses is ten days. I’m guessing that is ten working days as well.

In my view this is nowhere near enough to incentivise customers to provide feedback. It’s pathetic in fact. Professionally I’ve worked for a number of different businesses.  Turnaound times are typically around four hours at most. Why shouldn’t the Maxx complaints system be any different?

I’m not suggesting that a complete solution be developed in four hours, just that an acknowledgement (and ideally a reference number) be given in a timely manner.

A Plea for the 005

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I’ve submitted the following via the feedback page of the maxx website.

Could we please have a bigger bus for the 005 7:57 service on weekday mornings.  Tuesdays service was a full standing load (only an 1800 series bus was provided) and the St Marys and Ponsonby Intermediate school kids aren’t even back until tomorrow (Thursday).

There also needs to be an additional 005 service from Westmere in the mornings.  Current services depart 7:57 and 8:37 – this gap is too large. Perhaps extending the current 8:10 or 8:25 004 services to originate from Westmere instead of the Herne Bay terminus would help here.

It took a week for the last feedback I gave via the website to be acknowledged, lets hope we get some faster feedback this time. Incidentally, even though I haven’t had it confirmed at all via the feedback process, I rode on bus 1801 yesterday and it looks to be producing far less emissions than shown in this video here.

Josh Arbury also has a request in to reroute the 005 in the evenings to go via the Albert St bus lanes rather than Hobson St. Let’s hope we see some progress on that one too.

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