It’s odd that one would find out this incredibly important piece of news from a Computer Magazine, but that has been the case here. As I had hoped for when posting on the subject a few days ago, Thales have been awarded the contract for Auckland’s integrated ticketing system. Unless things fall over completely, the prospect of having the bizarre situation of Infratil running the ticketing system and most of the buses (but not all of them, and not the trains either) has been averted. And that is good news. A few bits and pieces from the article:
A consortium led by French company Thales, long rumoured to have won a tender to supply Auckland’s integrated ticketing system, has finally been named by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority as its preferred provider.ARTA will now enter negotiations with the Thales group to deliver the project before going to the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA), which will help fund the project. The other companies that tendered for the deal are not entirely out of the picture, however, as final negotiations could still fail bringing an Infratil-led consortium and another led by Downer EDI back into the picture, warns ARTA’s CEO, Fergus Gammie.
One would hope that it’s very unlikely that the final negotiations fail. And now for the frustrating news:
ARTA is aiming to go to NZTA in September. That would mean the project, which has been in the planning and evaluation stages for three years at least, will be running nearly a year behind its original schedule.
Seriously, this project has taken utterly forever. But at least it’s finally happening I suppose.
NZTA’s approach to the national system is to have one central clearing house for regional systems such as Auckland’s. It wants to use open standards and interfaces and alternative funding and financing options to help make both the national and regional systems a reality.The Auckland tender process will be used to deliver that, it says in a statement released today.
“This approach will provide for a core centralised system that allows for multiple technologies and electronic ticket providers to connect to the central system provided they meet the technical standards defined by the NZTA,” the statement says.
“The approach will also provide the potential for individual public transport operators to decide which electronic ticketing or smart card system best meets their business needs. The focus will be on determining the standards while maintaining options, choice and competitive tensions to ensure value for money and improvements in the effectiveness of public transport services in New Zealand.”
This is most excellent news for Auckland’s transport future. Now we just need to get NZTA to stump up with the required money (which should hopefully just be a formality) and then we’ll finally be able to progress with this project. I wonder how long it’ll take to roll out? Fully operational by the 2011 Rugby World Cup I hope.
Update: The ARTA press release is here. Of interest:
“Boarding times will be faster for our customers because fares won’t have to be collected. The ticket will be a swipe on/ swipe off system. Faster boarding times will mean ARTA has the potential to put on more frequent services. Having a smartcard means ease of transfer for commuters between different bus operators, train and ferry services.
“An integrated ticketing system also has the potential to offer some very attractive fare reductions in comparison to cash purchase of tickets.
“The system will include automated gates, smartcard readers onboard buses and ferries, smartcard reload devices at selected rail and bus stations and ferry wharves, and the supply of all computer hardware, software, networks and communications”.
Mr Rabindran says the system will be similar to London’s Oyster system and Hong Kong’s Octopus system. Like Oyster, ARTA plans to initially implement core functions and progressively phase in additional functionality.