A few days ago I did a post entitled Snapper Shocker where I expressed my disgust at Snapper’s announcement they would be introducing the Snapper card on the buses of their sister company NZ Bus. I reflected on the seriousness of using such words without clarification, I actually started to wonder if I had gone too far in my frustration that is until I saw yesterday this story in the NZ Herald and realised if anything I didn’t go far enough:

Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai, whose card is now used only on Wellington buses and at some retail outlets but which is based on a multi-modal Korean system and will soon be extended to taxis, says he would have no difficulties feeding it into “back-office” facilities supplied by Thales.

But his chairman, Infratil director Paul Ridley-Smith, appeared to contradict that position in questioning the need for the Auckland authority to establish a separate electronic transaction clearing house to Snapper’s.

“No, no, we’re not going to plug into Thales,” he told the Herald. “We have a perfectly functional, 100 per cent effective, totally competent integrated ticketing system so why would you build another one?”

A leaked report by Mr Ridley-Smith to his board in August outlined a strategy for Snapper to sign up transport operators in Auckland before presenting a fait accompli to the Transport Agency.

That was aimed at “removing the need for NZTA funding and thus denying ARTA the ability to contract with Thales.”

I think a blog commenter called Commuter on the Auckland Trains website has summed it up nicely:

Maybe Infratil could now rename their Snapper cards, Eel cards, being slippery, definitely slimy and somewhat of an acquired taste.

Indeed.

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40 comments

  1. That is an amazingly damaging leak. So they plan to eliminate the need for NZTA funding by offering a substandard system which the passengers pays for completely but that becomes sufficiently widespread that it’s too difficult politically to eliminate it? Sounds like a very dicey strategy from them and, if it were successful, would leave the passengers worse off (even if the system weren’t substandard, there would be no subsidy).

  2. Everyone now knows what they are up to and how they are trying to do it… Like a celebrity trying to rob a bank without a mask…

  3. David… “by offering a substandard system”

    What is substandard about it? Snapper seems to work just fine in Wellington. It is based on a system in common use overseas.

    The big question seems to be whether you have a privately operated system that could operate in a federated manner with other ticketing providers. Or a centralised system “owned” by central government, but outsourced to a French company. I’m a bit suspicious any time government wants to run a giant centralised IT project, since they don’t have a good record of doing so.

  4. Obi, the advantages of the Thales system and their experience in running it have been widely canvassed elsewhere in this blog. Suffice to say that the system in Wellington is not an integrated ticketing system – maybe it could become that, but it is not yet. AS for centralization, I’d suggest that one of the main problems with Auckland’s current system is the lack of it.

  5. As someone who has Snapper, Oyster and Metrocards, and has had detailed discussions with senior management from both Thales and Snapper, I can say with some confidence that Snapper is *not* technically substandard – and saying that it is often enough doesn’t make it true! The Thales system and Snapper are technically very similar and are both in use overseas, and Snapper has he advantage of NZ experience, and costing the taxpayer/ratepayer/passenger nothing extra (except for the Wellington taxi deal, which they won by beating the competition).

    Snapper is not integrated, but that’s not through any technical deficiency – it’s because they have to rely on individual commercial deals (of which they have many), and don’t have NZTA/ARTA’s ability to impose a solution.

    I have no connection with Infratil other than as a customer, and I’m well aware that the implementation of Snapper needs some improvement – which the technology is quite capable of supporting.

    As has already been asked, would a company other than Infratil offering to save tens of millions of public dollars generate such reactions?

  6. Mike, I agree with you that Snapper system doesn’t necessarily have to be of a lower standard than Thales’. However, that does not get around to solving other problems such as the conflict of interest between Snapper running the ticketing system and operating some of the buses.

    The way this system could work is often being compared to how EFTPOS works, in that we might end up with a number of different cards and machines, but having them all inter-operable. I guess taking that analogy one step further, having Snapper run the ticketing system would be like having ASB Bank running the EFTPOS system, being able to see what everyone else is going, but them not being able to see what ASB Bank is doing. I would say that’s the primary reason why Snapper didn’t get the integrated ticketing contract – the conflict of interest was just too messy.

  7. @David, I think he’s referring to them paying for the installment of the Snapper system on Auckland’s buses rather than the tax and/or ratepayer. The main problems as I understand with Sanpper are:

    – It’s inability to carry both monthly pass capacity and stored valued.
    – It’s inability to be “refilled” on bus
    – Top up fees
    – Tag off requirement (which costs when buses breakdown)
    – Missed tag offs
    – It’s inability to offer “capped fares”
    – The massive conflict of interest of having an Infratil company having the passenger statistics of the whole network
    – It’s lack of integration experience (there has been no true integration in Wellington)

    All things that won’t be an issue with Thales or could be eliminated…

  8. All

    An interesting debate as always.

    Some facts which will enlighten you

    1. Snapper is not a bus company – it is a transaction company. We neither own nor operate buses. we have an independent structure from NZBUS, Wellington Airport, Trustpower, iSite and all the other companies that Infratil own.

    2. All data is independently owned by the PT companies and retailers – not Snapper. There is an independent audit process that ensures that this is no shared or disclosed in any way. In this way we’ve been able to sign up competing retailers and PT operators like taxis and ferries. The conflict of interest argument is completely spurious. There are plenty of entities in NZ that compete and yet co-operate. The banks and the EFTPOS system are good examples of that. There is also legislation that would prevent us from doing so – its called the Commerce Act. I like the idea of not being in jail.

    3. We support passes and stored value on the same card now and have 1000’s of customers who do this today on the Runcimans service. Other operators are looking at their implementation plans now – timing is related to when they want to do it. We will also support the ability to add a pass online in early 2010.

    4. Top ups on bus – we could do this and have deliberately chosen not to. Two simple design reasons

    – it is the number 1 thing that slows a bus down in terms of handing cash over and loading onto a card
    – Operators want to remove cash from the vehicle for safety and fraud issues.

    We will have another way to do this which we’ll announce next year.

    5. Tag Off – This is a function of fare policy as opposed to a system capability. Anytime you have a system where the fare varies according to distance you need to calculate the fare from where the passenger boarded and where they exited. Tag On only is fine if you have a flat fare, which we do offer in Whangarei.

    In the case of a bus breakdown, the new bus that picks up passengers is put into a breakdown mode which recognises that it is picking up passengers that have not tagged off and automatically calculates the appropriate fare, taking into account the breakdown.

    6. Capped fares – we can do this, its not the fare policy in Wellington. As an example we offered it for Canterbury.

    7. Integration Experience – Snapper is the same system used in Seoul. This integrates over close to 100 operators across train, bus and taxi, processing transfers fare apportionments for over 30 million transactions everyday.The same system is used interoperably with other equipment manufacturers in Korea. Looking at the standards development for the system, it will be compliant with European, UK, US and Korean standards. I’d be interested if anyone can find a place that is more complex in terms of integration.

    8. Top Up fees are simply a function of government funding. If Snapper received funding for top up fees (which you will note are only in Retail. 90% of which go direct to the retailer and EFTPOS) then of course we wouldn’t charge them. The fact is we receive *no* government funding. We are OK with that, as it encourages us to be more efficient and find other ways to top-up which we can achieve at no cost. You’ll see them soon.

    Miki
    CEO Snapper

  9. “As has already been asked, would a company other than Infratil offering to save tens of millions of public dollars generate such reactions?”

    If Wayfarer (the other losing tenderer in Auckland) was doing what Infratil is doing I’m sure exactly the same reactions would be the result.

  10. @Jarbury

    The EFTPOS example you use is a good one – it just doesn’t quite work the way you describe.

    ANZ National own EFTPOS NZ.
    A consortium of banks own Paymark.
    There are others who run their own systems (EZIPAY and SmartPay).

    In the course of this, each entity is processing other entities transactions. There are rules in place and structures eg EFTPOS NZ is owned by ANZ National but has a separate corporate structure to its retail bank so it can provide services to what can be considered would be its sister companies competitors in a safe way. This is how Snapper is structured.

    Banks do this, telcos do this, its common practice.There no reason why Snapper can’t do it

  11. Miki, first thing first, your system has been operational in Wellington for a while now and still is not integrated, so the track record is against you from the start, Auckland doesn’t want to go down the path it has taken so many times in history and choose the in-superior system, on the whim it has the potential.

    But the main reason everyone is annoyed with snapper, and is hating on snapper is the fact they won’t accept the decision, but act like a spoilt little kid. They have had the chance twice to win over ARTA in a fair tender process, now snapper seem intent on playing dirty to get rid of the competition which also failed. The main point here is snapper’s principals are messed up, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Auckland has chosen the best possible solution on the wake of this news, also this process has shown that snapper is run very similar to NZ Bus (not with the best interests of the customer), therefore portraying that there would be a conflict of interest.

  12. Thanks for joining the debate Miki.

    As I pointed out to you when I met you a month or so back, it seems to me as though the technology of Snapper “could” be equal to that found anywhere in the world. So I don’t have a problem with the technical capabilities of the Snapper Card – although I do think you should be demonstrating the full capabilities of Snapper more in Wellington (though I understand the logic of starting slowly and adding functionality over time).

    Regarding the conflict of interest issue, it’s not so much just a matter of Snapper having financial information about what other companies are doing – as I agree there are legal reasons why that would be messy. There are other issues, such as Snapper knowing where trips being and end on all services, what patronage patterns are and so forth that would be really really useful to know…. it just seems pretty easy for one branch of Infratil to pass that information to another branch (NZ Bus).

    However, as Joshua above says (sounds odd repeating my own name, but we are two different people) I think the main reason why people are annoyed at Snapper is their inability to accept the ARTA/NZTA decision to award the contract to Thales. You’re just sounding like sore losers now, and it’s annoying.

    My understanding is that ARTA went with Thales because Snapper refused to let ARTA “own” the system – and therefore potentially the data. Surely one of the whole points of integrated ticketing is to ensure that ARTA knows everything, so that they can plan the best system possible. I note that the likely changes to the PTMA will frustratingly mean that commercial services might once again be excluded from this situation, which will be a giant leap backwards… but that’s another matter.

    If Snapper wants to win back some public favour, yet at the same time get a “slice of the pie” in Auckland I suggest they focus on co-operating with ARTA/Thales to help “bring forward” integrated smart-card ticketing in Auckland. Perhaps there can be a place for Snapper if you guys end up being fully inter-operable with the ARTA/Thales system. This appears to be what you were proposing in the Herald article quoted above, at least until your chairman contradicted you.

  13. There is so much misinformation on this blog!

    “By increasing fares on NZBus services, as they have in Wellington.”
    Wrong – with a few exceptions, all PT in Wellington uses GWRC fare scales, irrespective of mode, operator or ticketing system.
    “It’s inability to carry both monthly pass capacity and stored valued.”
    Wrong – Runciman’s offer both these on Snapper
    “It’s inability to be “refilled” on bus”
    Correct – a feature shared with Oyster, Octopus etc
    “Tag off requirement (which costs when buses breakdown)”
    Correct – a feature shared with Oyster (on trains), Octopus etc
    “It’s inability to offer “capped fares””
    Wrong – it’s able to, it just doesn’t (unfortunately)
    “The massive conflict of interest of having an Infratil company having the passenger statistics of the whole network”
    Infratil didn’t seem to take seriously NZTA’s requrement for separate ownership of PT services & ticketing system.
    “It’s lack of integration experience (there has been no true integration in Wellington)”
    Not yet in Wellington (for commercial, not technical, reasons), but plenty in Seoul. Thales has no integration (or any other ticketing) experience in NZ, either.

  14. Mike, as stated in this blog, where not criticizing the technology snapper is using, we are criticizing the company who is using the technology. Thales have the technology and have had experience using it. Snapper have the technology but no experience using it. It’s a different company that uses the technology overseas.

    Thales have proven overseas that they are keen to roll out the whole system,(Not saying they will do the same thing but history has the odds with them)

    Snapper haven’t been able to prove it, although they have had plenty of opportunities. (Not saying they can’t in this situation however history has the odds against them)

  15. I too personally have no issues with Sanpper, the technology and card.

    My main issue with Snapper Services, the company, as well as Infratil, the parent company, is they have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no respect for due process (like a tender process and appeals processes, for example).

    From when the tender was lost up til now and with their current plans, Snapper and Infratil have repeatedly demonstrated political interference, churned out endless spin, have been seen to hijack discussion boards and blogs (as seen on aucklandtrains.co.nz with a sudden burst of Snapper praising posts – 5 in 10 minutes), strong-arm tactics….

    Cited examples are in this discussion forum post: http://www.bettertransport.org.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1703#p42052 including a quote from a leaked Infratil report as published in the NZ Herald by Infratil director Paul Ridley-Smith in August that outlined a strategy for Snapper to sign up transport operators in Auckland before presenting a fait accompli to the Transport Agency, aimed at “removing the need for NZTA funding and thus denying ARTA the ability to contract with Thales”.

    Infratil/Snapper Services are trying to bully their way into running Auckland’s ticketing system and that is NOT in the best interests of Auckland, New Zealand, or anyone but the companies themselves. Auckland is getting sick of this suck-them-dry attitude with public transport demonstrated by NZ Bus (another Infratil company) and its previous incarnation as Stagecoach.

  16. At Miki and Mike thanks for stopping by, I have been given information contrary to some that you have posted from people in ARTA, Auckland councils and users of Snapper in Wellington.

    Quote:
    “Tag On only is fine if you have a flat fare, which we do offer in Whangarei.”

    Snapper offers flat fares in Whangarei..? I didn’t know Snapper was in Whangarei, surely your not referring to Snapper and NZ Bus as “we” after you went to great great pains to differentiate the companies here:

    “Snapper is not a bus company – it is a transaction company. We neither own nor operate buses. we have an independent structure from NZBUS, Wellington Airport, Trustpower, iSite and all the other companies that Infratil own”

    I think you can take this “spin” elsewhere please, as the leaked report from an Infratil director relating to both NZ Bus and Snapper and how they would have to work together to cut Thales out of the Auckland market shows, even though the books might be done seperately the companies have very high integration, much higher integration than Snapper has in Wellington…

  17. All

    There is a fundamental shift that occurred earlier this year.

    The NZTA Board has decided it wants a national system and standards that allows for full competition. In effect, any system that complies with the standard, delivers the fare policy, and ensures NZTA has access to the data is allowed to compete for business from operators. Note the use of the term operators – operator are required to buy the systems, not the Regional Councils. We think this is good. We tick all the boxes as well.

    This is very different from a single vendor regional system which is what was contemplated 2 years ago.

    8 ticketing vendors were at the recent standards setting session on Monday – there will be a lot of competition in this market. We intend to compete vigorously as a result of this open market. That will be a good thing in that it will at least reduce prices all round.

    Some specific comments

    @Joshua

    The regional fare policy dictates what happens in a region in terms of integrated fares. There’s a good post on this same blog about what an integrated fare policy in AK might look like. There is a requirement for operators in Wellington to offer Transfers in the Hutt Valley . We have 1000’s of customers every day who get free transfers as a result – automatically. We are using what our system can do to push for further changes that will make travelling easier.

    As for your quotes about ‘everyone hating on us’, a couple of observations of this forum

    1. It seems to be a general approach from contributors to this forum to ‘hate on’ more than just Snapper. I think it reflects the attitudes of the people who read this as opposed to Snapper.

    2. The comments are not all one way, we get our fair share of support, which I certainly appreciate.

    Finally KSCC, the same company that integrates in Seoul, is our key developer in NZ as well. We have experience to burn.

    @jarbury

    ARTA won’t own the system – NZTA will. NZTA have stated that they will own the data, not ARTA. We don’t have a problem with that.

    We are fully engaged on developing the National Standard along with Thales and others – we’ll be in the market with a standards compliant product very soon.

    @Andrew

    Snapper had the right to challenge the tender process – frankly, we thought that would be resolved in 2 months not the 8+ months it took.

    I take exception to your comments about hijacking discussion boards – get Jon C to check the IP addresses. It’s not my style and if I find it is one of my team they will be disciplined. These conversations have to be genuine for them to work. You may want to consider the possibility that Snapper has genuine support.

    Given we are going to install in AK without subsidy from ratepayer or taxpayer, its impossible to see that we are sucking anyone dry.

    Miki

  18. @Jeremy Harris

    Snapper is installed on buses in Whangarei. Has been for over a year. Primarily used for cash fares due to local policy. Cards have been used on the system. We (Snapper) process flat rate fares in Whangarei

    Paul Ridley-Smith is *not* an Infratil director. He is the Chairman of Snapper. He has an obligation to report to the Infratil Board, which he clearly has done.

    My comments are not spin. Snapper is not a bus company. Fact.

  19. Miki, now that you’re here is there any chance you could clarify whether you’re right or whether your chairman is right in the following extracts from Monday’s herald article:

    Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai, whose card is now used only on Wellington buses and at some retail outlets but which is based on a multi-modal Korean system and will soon be extended to taxis, says he would have no difficulties feeding it into “back-office” facilities supplied by Thales.

    But his chairman, Infratil director Paul Ridley-Smith, appeared to contradict that position in questioning the need for the Auckland authority to establish a separate electronic transaction clearing house to Snapper’s.

    “No, no, we’re not going to plug into Thales,” he told the Herald. “We have a perfectly functional, 100 per cent effective, totally competent integrated ticketing system so why would you build another one?”

    It would be much appreciated thanks.

  20. @Miki Surely you can’t deny that Snapper would never be owned by Infratil if they did not own NZ Bus. I’m guessing Snapper was effectively set up by NZ Bus as a way to get a new ticketing system. How many staff do Infratil have and do you share any with NZ Bus? How about the Snapper liveried buses, do you pay NZ Bus to advertise yourself on their buses? Its just I find it hard to believe that Snapper and NZ Bus are not heavily intertwined. I would guess that are much more heavily linked that any of Infratils other companies. I know I may be asking confidential information, and will understand if you cannot answer the questions.

  21. @jarbury

    Josh – that was the topic of a conversation that I had with Geoff Dangerfield of NZTA yesterday . Consistent with my comments here, we believe that a fully open standard will mean that the systems are fully interoperable. We’re trying to have a conversation with ARTA over the next couple of weeks that should take the heat out of this.

    @Luke

    Thanks for the question.

    I think Snapper wouldn’t exist if Infratil wasn’t the primary shareholder for another reason. Putting it simply, Snapper’s business case to payback is somewhere in the 5-7 year category. Not many other owners would have the patience for that level of investment.

    We have commercial terms with NZBUS to operate the system. Practically, that means Infratil makes no money at all on this internally. There is no additional subsidy payable from the councils for implementing Snapper. Therefore other business we have won such as taxis, the ferries, retail and our work with other regions and bus operators is very important to us. The future of Snapper is very closely related to winning business outside the Infratil group.

    We also pay commercial rates for advertising on buses, billboards, adshels etc.

    We share no staff with NZ Bus. We use Infratil for support in functions such as payroll and corporate finance (foreign exchange for example). That may be common with NZBUS but that’s probably the end of it. We pay a management fee for that support as well. We have a steering group with members from NZBUS and Snapper for implementation projects – that’s no different from any other customer such as GWRC or Taxicharge.

  22. So Miki are you claiming that there has been no co-ordination after your unsucessful appeal between Snapper, NZ Bus and Infratil to try and ensure the Thales contract was not signed..?

    I think you’re treating us as fools if you think anyone would seriously believe that given you’re actions and what has come through in the media…

    How many Snapper directors are directors on the boards of Infratil and NZ Bus..?

  23. @Luke

    To be completely transparent, on-bus advertising is managed by another Infratil company iSite. They manage advertising for a range of bus entities including NZBUS, Mana, Cougar, Ritchies and GoBus. There are definitely models where supposedly competing companies work together for broader benefit.

    @Jeremy Harris

    You might want to ask yourself why I continue to make these points. It is to get the facts straight. You may not like that – doesn’t stop them from being facts.

    No Infratil directors are Snapper directors. Or vice versa. http://www.infratil.com/content/view/1914/93/

    The Infratil CFO Kevin Baker left the Board of NZBUS to come onto the Board of Snapper. He was recently re-appointed to the Board of NZBUS and is coming of the board of Snapper.

    We take this seriously.Its part of the obligation of being part of a listed entity.

    I’m out of this one now. Plenty of work to do today.

  24. I notice you failed to answer the first question, you did that a lot on our Kiwiblog discussion to, happy to answer the questions you could spin positively and simply ignored those you didn’t really have a plausible answer for…

    I was under the impression you keep on replying on because I kept on asking questions, expect for your initial post when you responded to one of my posts by correcting me on point 3, misinterpreted me and told some half truths…

  25. Also why should Auckland trust snapper, since it has originated from a company who held auckland commuters at ransom for a simple work to rule. Imagine if a simluar occurance happened through snapper, there would be no public transport. (I know you may say your not NZBUS, but you come from the same company overall and have already shown simular work ethics and characteristics to NZBUS.) Also could you answer all questions out of respect, rather than just picking and chosing the one’s you are able to answer at the time? I do appreciate you taking time to answer our queries, just also asking for some respect.

  26. @Jeremy Harris @ Joshua

    Fair points.

    There’s been no co-ordination other than the commercial arrangement signed between NZBUS and Snapper some months ago. That was between those two companies directly.

    As for the point about Snapper and Industrial action, I personally would not anticipate that. The IT industry is quite different from the Bus industry. As such the same scenario simply could not happen. I guess you’ll just have to judge us on our merits when we are in the market in Auckland.

    I’ve looked through the rest of the questions and that looks to me to be the only one unanswered.

    @ Jeremy Harris

    You’ve made some allegations about half truths and mis interpretations. I would like to know what they are. I’ve looked through your questions and can’t see any evidence of that in my answers.

    EG Question 1. Snapper is required to comply with legislation such as the Anti Money Laundering Legislation, Financial Service Providers, Credit Contracts Act, Securities Act, Reserve Bank Act, Consumer Finance Act to name a few. These are specific to industry we operate in which is transaction processing.

    I do wonder why you look at Snapper’s Wellington experience only when our consortium includes KSCC who deployed the system in Seoul? It’s applicable experience – the same as any other international provider. Its part of what we offer.

  27. Just found another reason to dislike Snapper, in the form of an emailed newsletter from their PR company mentioning (frequently) the term “integrated ticketing”. Snapper is NOT a fucking integrated ticket!

  28. @Jarbury

    Respectfully, I disagree. Snapper has the capability to deliver all the components of Integrated Ticketing.

    As a for example, even the much revered Oyster Card has only just added Overground Rail – more than 6 years after launch http://oyster-card-news.newslib.com/story/7956-255/

    That didn’t stop it from offering Integrated features across the services that were already using it, such as transfers. Snapper is exactly the same and has every right to use the term.

  29. Miki I think we have to agree to disagree, because snapper at the moment is not an integrated ticket, it may have some feature but you must use those features to truly call yourself integrated.

  30. Miki, clearly in Auckland the term “integrated ticketing” has a specific meaning, and that is an “all operators, all modes” ticket. You may be able to play a tricky game of semantics, but it just comes across as deliberately misleading, and reinforces the perception of Snapper/Infratil as a misleading and sneaky company.

  31. I’m trying hard not to comment on these issues but, respectfully, I have to state that Mr Szikzai is being a touch disingenuous here, specifically in respect of his observation on the Oyster/National Rail service in London. The simple reason that pay as you go Oyster couldn’t operate on overground services in London was because the private operators refused to become involved, citing issues of commercial confidentiality, etc. This notwithstanding the fact that TfL was providing massive subsidies to install Oyster card readers, etc, on privately operated London suburban lines. One of the great objectors to the scheme was Stagecoach, the former owner of NZ Bus (and now, of course, the current owner of Howick and Eastern and Fullers). I guess it all comes down to that old truism ‘knowledge is power’; no commercial operator is going to make its raw data available to a regulator, let alone its competitors. I guess this is one of the reasons why Mr Szikzai is pushing his Snapper cards system; it’s not so much the system, as such, that’s the issue but the data control. Therein lies the profit; sadly this has nothing to do improving the lot of those who use public transport but I guess in the current political climate here we must expect more of this sort of attitude.

  32. @Miki, I know I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m very concerned about climate change and peak oil and anything that is disturbing to the meagre gains we get in this country regarding public transport gets my frustration levels sky high, with that said let me say I appreciate you commenting on this blog…

    I don’t really want to get into a big argument as we did on Kiwiblog, I feel we have both said our piece however as relates to my mistruths comment, for example point 7 in your initial post you talk about Snapper’s integrated experience in Seoul, which isn’t really Snapper experience as reflected in some of the small problems in Wellington, this also implies that Thales has no experience, when Thales has been the provider in 100 cities around the world and to an entire country, giving them experience in many more diverse environments…

    As regards my point about tagging off and breakdowns, I understand from talking to users in Wellington that often the drivers fail to enable the breakdown mode and that there has been problems with users believing they have tagged off when they in fact haven’t, the machine will make the noise as if they have tagged off yet their card has not registered the event and the problem of the machine simply seeming to not work as people put it closer, move it away, move it closer and it will not read, next thing they know the doors are closed and the driver is off to the next stop, although I admit there will likely be some teething problems with Thales hopefully given their greater experience these will be minimised…

    On point 3 where you set me right about passes and stored value on the same card, I take your word I don’t see why you’d lie about that in such a public forum, I thought I had that on pretty good authority and I haven’t had a chance to speak to the person who informed me but I’m guessing I misunderstood what they meant…

    I think we could get into large debates on all the other points also but I’m happy to let sleeping dogs lie if you are..?

    I’ll be in Wellington from Boxing day to New Year’s Eve so I’ll buy a Snapper card (you can thank me in advance for the business) while down there and give it is fair due, I saw it used last time I was there and to me it just looked like a fancy Go-Rider card I have to say…

    Finally over the weekend I plan on doing a post on where I believe Snapper/Infratil/NZ Bus should go next after losing the tender, it would be great if you could read it and comment…

    Finally, in rough terms does Snapper need Auckland’s business to turn from loss making to profitable..?

  33. @Joshua

    @Jarbury

    @commuter

    I understand your points. I think we would all love a system that would allow one ticket to be used on all services, not just in one city but across the country.That’s our vision. I don’t believe it has to be a single brand of ticket either – it comes down to the core point that if we have a really good quality national standard we can achieve it. I think Snapper is part of the solution.

    My point about Oyster card was to illustrate the fact that even some of the world’s best systems have had their issues (commercial, political or technical) that have prevented full coverage, yet are still perceived as being an Integrated Ticket.

    The question I would ask is when can a system be called an integrated ticket? When it is announced? When its launched on the first operator? When it is on its 4th operator? When its covering more than 70% of the routes? Or only when it has been delivered across every single operator including the sole bus operator?

    So you understand how I look at it, from the point when we were offering automatic transfers to customers without them thinking about it – they just instantly get the benefit, and we were on 3 operators that required apportionment of payments, then we were offering Integrated Ticketing. I recognise that is still short of the vision I described earlier – you have to start somewhere.

    @commuter

    I like your comments on the ownership of data. I have a very clear view on your ‘knowledge is power’ comment. Knowledge is power only if it is shared.

    I am a big supporter in initiatives such as publishing data in a way that is useful for other applications to use. For example, aggregate data of boardings and de-boardings by time of day in an area would be pretty useful information, as would performance of services to schedule, or data that would allow personal travel planning. That’s something I’d like to ask this forum for support on in the future. There are some entrenched views that need to be shifted – certainly given my internet experience there is a need for Public Transport 2.0 but I digress….

    The data in the Snapper system is not owned by Snapper – its owned by the operators. We don’t own it or control it. My belief is that we have to treat that with respect otherwise I simply wont have customers. I’d like to do our bit to show that you can trust a company that looks after data.

    @Jeremy Harris

    Make that hearts on sleeves x 2. There’s more in common with our views that we think. I totally respect your last post – that takes some guts and I appreciate that. Lets start a new page.

    Personally I truly believe that Snapper can be part of the solution to turning public transport into something we can be proud of. I am fortunate in that I live in one of the few areas in NZ where I actually have choice in public transport. I can choose the bus, the ferry, the train or riding my bike. It means that from an NZ perspective I am an anomaly being a one car family.

    As a regular visitor to Auckland I can see why you have to scrap for every gain. To be honest I am having to do the same with Snapper in Auckland. Part of what it takes to achieve what you believe in, I guess.

    For the record, I completely respect Thales’ experience – what I have been making a point on is that Snapper’s expertise off shore with KSCC has not usually been recognised. I’ve found it frustrating that every other vendor’s offshore experience is held up yet Snapper’s consortium is only judged by what people see locally, as opposed to what the system achieves in Seoul.

    The point you raised around breakdown mode is interesting. It actually doesn’t matter whether it is Snapper, ERG, Parkeon or Thales, a critical factor is the ability of the drivers to operate the system in irregular day to day scenarios such as picking up passengers after a breakdown. These systems are computer systems and sometimes the skills aren’t there. What we are doing is offering Tranzqual ITO access to Snapper so they can add system training to the bus driver standards that have been introduced. That alone will take a couple of years just to shift the culture. So much to do, so much to do!

    On your question of profitability, Snapper is set up to cover costs on Public Transport. We don’t expect to make a profit on PT. Personally, given how PT is structured in NZ, I think that’s only fair. Too little money going around already. Specifically, Auckland is a big part of that. It will get us close to covering operating costs. Profit for Snapper depends on having retail spend as well – not top ups! 🙂 I think it is an advantage of our model – most other providers who are PT only have to turn a profit on PT, otherwise they go out of business. Snapper has the opportunity to do something different through the Retail model. Also, I think there are some export opportunities for us down the track.

    I’ll keep an eye out for your post on the weekend.

    Lastly – drop me a line on miki.szikszai@snapper.co.nz – I will be in Wellington for a couple of days in the period you are in town and it would be good to meet. Let me know your address as well and I will get a Snapper so you can hit the ground running when you are here.

    Miki

  34. Re Andrew’s comments re support for Snapper in comments on my blog: I have emailled the people who posted the comments and are satisfied they are genuine. The people who praised use of the card had come in to read the post after a Twitter alert that there was a post from the Snapper CEO. They have different IP addresses and I am convinced they have no connection with Snapper other than owning a card. As I have written, I used a Snapper card in Wellington recently for bus travel (and a lunch) and found it excellent.

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