It has been a while since we heard anything about the progress of implementing Auckland’s integrated ticketing system, so it’s welcoming to see a media release by NZTA today saying that some progress is being made in the establishment of the national ticketing standards that will ensure inter-operability between all public transport smart-cards in New Zealand in the future.

Here’s the news:

Moves towards national integrated public transport ticketing have taken a big step forward with the development of a key agreement between the NZ Transport Agency and ticketing system providers.

The agreement paves the way for the creation of a set of national standards for integrated public transport ticketing.

NZ Transport Agency Group Manager of Regional Partnerships and Planning, Dave Brash says a wide range of industry representatives are participating in the development of the ticketing standards.

He says this is ensuring the best possible system for public transport consumers, transport operators, regional councils and the government.

“We can continue to move forward co-operatively to progress the creation of National Standards by the end of the year,” says Mr Brash.

“It’s important that we are able to work well with ticketing providers to establish a scheme within the overall national framework which creates a fair and level playing field for all parties,” he says

National operating standards define how the central core of a national system will function as well as how operator equipment such as on-board bus ticketing machines will interact with that system.

“This standards approach will enable us to establish a long-term integrated national system that regions throughout New Zealand can cost-effectively link into,” says Mr Brash.

Auckland will be the first region in New Zealand to adopt the national integrated ticketing system and it is anticipated that other regions will follow.

Mr Brash says national integrated ticketing is part of an overall strategy to establish a more efficient and effective public transport system. That is why it is a core part of NZTA’s leadership initiative in public transport.

“It opens the door to contestability on transport ticketing equipment while ensuring the development of a cost-effective, nationally-integrated system.”

The new national ticketing standard is being developed by the NZTA in consultation with industry players including transport operators and regional authorities.

Another big advantage of an integrated ticketing system will be the ability to easily collect common format strategic information about public transport usage. This will enable better long term planning and funding, which will result in a more efficient and cost-effective public transport system.

The national standards process is being assisted by Dutch specialists, Collis, who have also been involved with the development of other multi-modal integrated card systems in Europe and Dubai.

Organisations that are participating in the definition of the integrated ticketing standards are ARTA, Bus and Coach Association, Environment Canterbury, Electronic Ticketing Systems, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Init Pty Ltd, KiwiRail, Snapper, Thales, and HTS Group.

I’m not really sure about how excited I should be getting over all of this. It is certainly useful to hear that progress is being made on setting up the system to allow for nationwide ticketing, but what I really want to know answers to are more mundane questions, like the following:

  1. When will I be able to use the same ticket on all bus services in Auckland?
  2. When will I be able to use my bus pass on the train?
  3. When will I be able to board the bus without having to get the driver to press three buttons and for the whole exercise to take forever?
  4. When will I be able to get a free transfer from one bus to another, if both rides are within the same zone?
  5. When will I be able to get a free transfer between a bus and a train?
  6. When will I be able to top up my card over the internet, or automatically from my bank account so I never run out of stored value again?

Those are the questions that ARTA and NZTA really should be answering.

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  1. – Will I be able to use an integrated ticket between buses, trains and ferries without price discrimination between transport modes?
    – Will the weekly public transport cost be capped for frequent users to $10 a day, $50 a week and $200 a month?
    – Will the Supergold card system be integrated with it so corruption opportunities can be rooted out of the current system?

    1. “Will the weekly public transport cost be capped for frequent users to $10 a day, $50 a week and $200 a month?”

      A one way ticket to Wellington airport from the CBD is $8, or $16 return for about 5km.

      A return ticket from Berowra to Sydney airport is $Au30.60.

      A single day zone 1-6 travel card on LU is £14.80.

      Why should Auckland’s public transport be so much cheaper than other cities?

      1. In Melbourne a zone 1 daily pass is $6.80, and that one zone covers an area larger than all of urban Auckland. Weekend tickets are capped at $3.00 a day for both zones. A zone 1 monthly pass here is only $100.80.

        FYI a return ticket from Berowra to Syndey Central Station is $12, or only $8.20 return off peak. Their airport line is saddled with punitive surcharges which doesn’t make for a fair comparison.

      2. “Why should Auckland’s public transport be so much cheaper than other cities?” Because it’s a crap system and we should only pay for what we get. At the moment we pay first class fares for cattle class services.

  2. When will I be able to board a bus without being abused by the driver for not having the right change (for those of us who don’t currently have a card but might get one if the system was more user-friendly)?

  3. @Jarbury @uroskin

    The standard deals with technical issues rather than fare policy issues. Your questions are spot on and are the ones that matter.

    We advocated strongly (and unsuccessfully unfortunately) for direct user representation as part of the standard setting process. There may be some at a later date – we will keep on advocating for that.

    Are you ok if I raise your questions on your behalf at the next meeting?


    1. I assume you are someway related to Snapper Miki? When I click on your name I get directed to 🙂

  4. Miki, just a quick question on Snapper. I’ve been using Myki for a few days now and when trying to tag on I get a “multiple cards detected” conflict between the Myki and various cards in my wallet that use the same RFiD standard. So annoyingly I have to pull the card out and tag it individually each time, despite it being technically readable from 10-20mm away (i.e. through a wallet or bag).

    Is this an issue with Snapper and other radio frequency transit cards too, or is it just the Melbourne system?

  5. This seems to be dragging on a fair bit. How soon are we actually going to have cards and other infrastructure. They have been saying by RWC, however given that it will not be until the end of the year that the national standard gets the final sign off wouldn’t that be a bit of a stretch?

  6. @Nick R
    I’ve had problems with Snapper and Mana/Newlands’ Travelcard. Now got one in each half of my wallet – means I have to open it but not take the card out (provided I remember which is in which half).

  7. @Nick R

    Kegan is right – there are smartcard conflicts that can occur with ISO 14443 standards compatible cards

    We’re looking at some ways to resolve this – for example we now have a card that allows your building access card to be loaded on it.

    We’ve also got a bunch of other card and device types that can hang off a keyring

    These are selling well.

    @Uroskin LOL!


    All depends – if we can get some certainty during the process, all parties can start developing against the standard soon. The key issue that will drive timing is in fact when systems and cards can be certified. It’s one thing to have a standard, it’s another to prove that you meet it.

  8. I’m actually most curious about the fares policy, rather than the technical stuff to make it happen. Will we have free transfers? Will we have zone based ticketing? Will we have automatic top-ups? Will we have fare-capping?

  9. That mini snapper looks like a very useful option. I’ve been looking for a way to insert the Myki into my cellphone cover but a standard credit card sized one is just too big, something half the size could be stuck just about anywhere.

    Any performance issues with the keyring and mini models? Presumably the have a smaller antenna/induction coil than the full size ones.

    Admin, that stuff is easy card or no card, as you know it’s already in place on the North Shore. It is a little frustrating that the integrated ticketing, an integrated fares structure and a smart card system all get rolled into one, even though an integrated fares structure (the most important bit) could be rolled out tomorrow.

    Bring on the zones!

  10. @Nick R

    If you are fortunate enough to have an iPhone, check out made in Wanganui of all places!

    The antenna coil on the smaller devices is different – no apparent difference from our testing, although I am convinced that the sprat is faster


    The reason we were pushing for customer input was to ensure that there was a clear view of fare policy so that the technology delivered that, as opposed to the other way around. The good news is that this process is only just starting so there is still time to push a customer design driven view.

    1. It would be extremely disappointing and an enormous missed opportunity if the smart-card integrated ticket was simply overlaid onto our existing fare structure.

      1. I would agree, but that might be all too possible. Really the question is where is the momentum on integrated *fares*? Shouldn’t that be step 1, with the fancy card system step 2? We hear plenty about the card technology that would help to support it, but surely they could have a paper pass in place by the end of the year. Really, what would be wrong with taking the Northern Pass and applying it to the whole city?

  11. Clarifying my last point on the sprat being faster

    Card transaction times are in effect the same across standard Snapper, Mini and Sprat.

    I think there is something about how you hold the Sprat that means that the total time of raising it against the reader, transacting and then moving on means that you can do that while still moving. It feels more natural.

  12. Interesting stuff with the various snapper cards. Ease of use is really the key.

    Admin, while I agree that a simplified fare structure will be a great thing, with a good smartcard system, at least some of the confusion will be taken out of it anyway because whatever fare structure applies will presumably be automatically applied. Not a full solution, but a good intermediate step, if the changes don’t all happen together.

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