New card gives passengers a ticket to ride
A debit or credit card may soon be all you need to travel on buses, trains and ferries across the country - unless you are in Auckland.
After years of delays, Greater Wellington Regional Council, on behalf of most of the country’s public transport authorities, is looking for an operator for the new system, which could arrive in Wellington as soon as 2020.
Nearly all of New Zealand’s public transport network is expected to eventually become part of a single ticket-free network with similar payment technology to the pay-wave system.
Auckland, with its own smartcard system called Hop card, will be the only exception. The nation’s biggest city won’t be able to join the wider national network before 2026, according to Graham Alston, Greater Wellington’s programme manager for integrated fares and ticketing.
What this all means is that, eventually, 16 existing ticketing systems across 12 regions will be rolled into one, Alston said.
Each time you board public transport – be it Wellington’s East by West ferry, a Christchurch tram or a Hamilton bus – you will swipe your debit or credit card.
All the information will be sent back to a computer and you will be theoretically charged the most cost-effective fare for the journey, even if it covers an array of different types of public transport.
But it will not stop there. If at the end of a month’s travel, it would have been cheaper to get the equivalent of a monthly pass, that is what you will be charged.
There are already similar systems overseas, but this will be the first in New Zealand, Alston said. ‘‘I am very excited.’’ Greater Wellington Regional Council recently asked potential suppliers of the system, from around the world, to give their feedback before it opens for tenders.
Introducing a nationwide public transport payment system has been on the Government’s radar for some time. Auckland’s Hop card was rolled out across all public transport in 2012, and a Wellington-equivalent was supposed to be in place by 2018.
But delays crept in after Wellington resisted the Government’s moves to have the Hop card system thrust upon it, which was the rough plan for the rest of the country as well.
Last year, the New Zealand Transport Agency signalled there would instead be ‘‘one or two’’ public transport ticketing systems nationwide.
Greater Wellington’s regional transport committee chairwoman Barbara Donaldson said she was excited to be working on a system that would meet ‘‘changing and increasing’’ customer expec- tations.
It would provide the ‘‘freedom’’ to get on or off our buses, trains and ferries with a ‘‘minimum of fuss and inconvenience’’, she said.
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said they would consider joining a new system.