If there is one issue we have noticed gets people more wound up than anything else on this site it is Integrated Ticketing and understandingly so.  The CRL, Electrification and other projects are great but for most day to day users but the one thing that directly effects every single PT user (or potential user) is the ticketing and fares system. As part of my recent OIA request I have had copies of the papers that have gone to the NZTA board meeting giving updates on the project which sheds some interesting information on the subject. Each of the papers are below (the update was in the middle of some of them hence the other stuff in them)

September, November, December, February, March

The first thing I noticed when I took a skim through the reports was this comment in the summary of the key risks in every single report which suggests that both the NZTA and AT are pretty concerned NZ Bus/Snapper are not going to do what they agreed to. Hopefully the recent media attention including Gerry Brownlee’s comments will help to ensure they stay on track.

Novembers update gives an indication on some of the pressures being placed on the project and despite assurances by AT  that Snapper would not delay things, it seems that it wasn’t the case.

The AIFS programme is progressing steadily and to plan. There are some cost and time pressures, as a result of unanticipated changes in the scope of the implementation work,and NZTA is working through funding options with AT:

  • The AIFS programme needs additional people to keep the programme on schedule. This is as a result of the extra workload incurred in supporting the Snapper implementation and integration earlier this year. This effort has absorbed greater resource than originally scoped and may continue to exert upward cost pressure in the later stages of the AIFS programme.
  • There is a need to upgrade some of the rail platform vending machines due to safety and customer service level issues, which result from platform configuration changes associated with the rail electrification work.

We are supporting AT in resolving the resource and funding issues and note these changes are circumstantial, and not the result of mismanagement by AT or Thales.

In December you get the feeling that the NZTA and AT were getting more comfortable following on from the confirmation that Parkeon had signed up to supply the other bus companies with equipment. The issues raised above in November appear to have been resolved but there is then this interesting bit of info. That might also explain why Infratil have gone so quiet on Snapper in their monthly updates.

February’s report is where we first start getting the news that the wheels are starting to fall of the Snapper piece of work as well as what some of those issues are. Having issues with data use and commercial sensitivity seems like a pretty serious problem to me but not one that I am going to suggest it was intentional. It does highlight one of the key reasons why AT and then the NZTA went with Thales in the first place, to have the system independent from the operators.

The other really interesting thing from Feb is news that the Office of the Auditor General are looking into integrated ticketing with a report due mid 2012. I will definitely be looking out for that.

The Office of the Auditor General have advised that they will be conducting a “special study” on the AIFS programme and related matters, starting in early 2012. This is part of a new pro-active approach by the OAG in areas of considerable public interest. The study is due to report to Parliament in mid 2012

March has similar information on the project and the only only really new bit is in regard to rail operations post integrated ticketing, it has this to say:

This post isn’t intended to be an attack on Snapper but it just so happens that they seem to be the key issue that keeps cropping up that could prevent the project from being successful. I do really hope that Snapper, AT and the NZTA are able to resolve these issues for the good of the city.

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  1. Auckland Transport have been well and truly played like a violin by Snapper.

    Looking forward though, when is the next deadline for Snapper? David Warburton says he has no reason to doubt that Snapper will be ready to plug into the integrated system by 30 November, but surely there are testing deadlines to be met before this.

    The Thales / Hop should be rolled out on the trains, ferries and other bus operators regardless. I don’t understand why everyone has to wait for Snapper to get their act together.

    1. I guess hey don’t want to have two different ‘HOP’ cards in circulation. It would cause a lot of confusion.

      1. Good point. It would be churlish to point out that AT should have thought about that before branding the Snapper card as Hop, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Options would be for NZ Bus to rebrand the Snapper / Hop back to Snapper or for AT to come up with a new brand – Hop 2.0?

    2. Great question, Cam! I have one explanation for why everyone’s waiting for Snapper: they say they’re doing so because they don’t actually have workable systems yet and it’s easier for them to blame their problems on Snapper. If they really had a system ready, they should just roll it out anyway, right?


  2. Agree with Cameron – the real concern is not just that Snapper may not meet its integration timetable, but that Snapper also seems to be delaying the implementation on other transport operators.

    This is no doubt because AT doesn’t want two versions of the HOP card out there, the Snapper version and the real version.

  3. I wish someone from here could get the NZTA monthly reports info on why the next stage in the airport line designation is taking NZTA so long to sign-off. What’s their beef? I’ve heard “It’s only a matter of weeks now” a few times!

    1. One of the reports I got back as part of the OIA request makes mention that they felt it was only being used to justify a rail line so wanted more work done to show other options.

  4. Hi guys,

    It’s your friendly technology-lover Mike here. I hope you’ve all been doing well. I’m still wondering why many of you are so concerned by Snapper. Cameron Pitches raised a very sensible question: why doesn’t AT create a Hop card that’s separate from Snapper for the trains, ferries and bus companies? An obvious answer is that it’s not ready yet. Is it just complaining about Snapper because the company’s a convenient punching bag and you guys are the ones being played like violins.

    I look forward to hearing your reflective ideas on this interpretation.


      1. I still don’t quite get it, Cameron. If the Thales contract is complete, how come there’s a branding problem for AT/Hop? They get their new system out and look good, while Snapper would look like a dog. What’s the problem?

        It seems to me, that the real problem that AT are trying to cover is that they’re not yet able to roll out a system.


        1. Mike, in Auckland Snapper is branded as Hop. It will cause confusion if a card called Hop won’t work on trains, ferries or bus services not operated by NZ Bus.

          But you’ve given me an idea – replace the existing Hop Snapper cards with two cards – a red Snapper branded card and the new Thales Hop card. (The Snapper replacement should be done at Snapper / NZ Bus’s expense for not meeting the project deadline – you would hope that when AT drew up the Hop partnership agreement with Snapper that they thought about all this.)

          The associated public communication would be to use the “red card” for NZ Bus services, and use your new Hop card for train, ferry and buses not operated by NZ Bus. NZ bus would have to rebrand their ticketing as Snapper, again at their own expense. What do you think?

    1. Mike Infratil Troll Wilkinson if you have to ask why we’re pissed off with your company’s games then you are clearly unable or unwilling to read the post above. I suggest you return to commenting when you have some relevant information rather than your tired and unconvincing suggestion that this is about your love of technology.

      1. Hey there Patrick. Snapper are not, nor have they ever been, my company. I just think their technology looks really cool. I see that 2degrees are releasing the Samsung Galxay s3 tomorrow. Aren’t you guys keen to have a look and see how useful it is to put a HOP/Snapper card into a mobile phone?

        What did it take to buy your unquestioning, passionate faith in Auckland Transport? You don’t sound like the kind of guy who’d have sold out. If it wasn’t money, it must have been something else. Do you have relatives who work for that organisation or something?


      2. Sorry, I should have added also that Infratil are not, nor have they ever been, my company. That their not a technology company means that I don’t think much about them at all. Snapper cards are what I’m focused on.


        1. Mike you have to realise that no-one here cares about micro payment systems or new cash cards. We want an integrated ticketing system, and are all quite pissed off that Snappers bullshit has continually delayed Auckland getting that. Might I suggest you try writing your next post about integrated ticketing without any reference to technology or cash replacement systems. See how far you get there.

          Like Cameron noted above Thales have completed their contract. The only reason we don’t have a functional intergrated ticket is because Snapper has yet to make its system work properly with the backend. AT can’t just go ahead and roll out an integrated ticket without 70% of the bus system included, that wouldn’t be integrated would it?

          There are only two solutions here. Snapper make their system work with Thales, or NZBus drop Snapper and refit with Thales gear. Either way the ball is in Infratil’s court, but if they don’t do the former pretty quickly then the latter will be the only option. Hell if you’ve got Brownlee getting upset you know your in trouble!

  5. Hey there Nick. I know few care about micro-payments, but they’re not the obvious thing I think’s cool with the technology. Don’t you agree that it would be quite good just to pull your smartphone out of your pocket and wave it in front of the reader, rather than mucking around with getting a card out of your wallet? As well as that, you can also check your card’s balance on a smartphone; you can’t do that with any sort of Hop or Snapper card that I’ve seen.

    You didn’t really answer Cam’s question, though: if Snapper is the “only reason” AT aren’t rolling out integrated ticcketing yet, why doesn’t the organisation just give up on Snapper and start rolling out Hop 2.0 itself? If the slowness is Snapper’s fault, I just can’t see why it doesn’t just get on with it.


    1. Well from what I understand the Thales card will work quite happily through a wallet/purse/bag in the presence of other near field cards…. unlike Snapper which has to be take out of the wallet to keep it clear of other cards because the readers can’t tell the difference. So indeed Snapper requires mucking around to get it out of your wallet, but the real Hop shouldn’t. I’d be more than happy to wave my bag infront of the reader as I board.

      Likewise with checking the cards balance on a smartphone, this should be perfectly possible with Hop as it is based around a backend account, not just stored on the card. Snapper can’t offer this. Their system is all based on stored value in the card, ‘the cloud’ can’t tell you the balance, and you have to purchase a retarded little USB dongle thing to top up your account! Thales won’t have this limitation and you’ll be able to top up over the internet or by phone. Likewise with checking the balance, you have to wait a day or two for transactions to be uploaded and appear online.

      If anything the Thales system will be far easier to integrate with smartphone applications that the dumb stored value card of Snapper.

      Snapper is simply inferior as a ticketing system, that’s why it failed the tender!

  6. Mike, see my comment above:

    Mike, in Auckland Snapper is branded as Hop. It will cause confusion if a card called Hop won’t work on trains, ferries or bus services not operated by NZ Bus.

    But you’ve given me an idea – replace the existing Hop Snapper cards with two cards – a red Snapper branded card and the new Thales Hop card. (The Snapper replacement should be done at Snapper / NZ Bus’s expense for not meeting the project deadline – you would hope that when AT drew up the Hop partnership agreement with Snapper that they thought about all this.)

    The associated public communication would be to use the “red card” for NZ Bus services, and use your new Hop card for train, ferry and buses not operated by NZ Bus. NZ bus would have to rebrand their ticketing as Snapper, again at their own expense. What do you think?

  7. My apologies, Cameron. I had missed your thoughtful comment. I honestly think your idea sounds like a very sensible thing. If AT tried putting it into place, surely it would demonstrate that Snapper was the one creating problems and AT would be done with them. I also admit that it would be very effective at silencing guys like me who raise questions about why people are blaming Snapper so much. I suggest that there’s just one little problem with it, however.

    I think its drawback is that it would remove a convenient punching bag in case AT’s not able to get HOP 2.0 together. Whether or not AT have a system they can roll out, they’re a government-controlled organisation: they’ll want a punching bag, just in case.

    Still, I might be wrong on this. How about readers of this blog start encouraging AT to cut Snapper lose and roll out HOP 2.0?


  8. Either Mike is not able to absorb information, or he is deliberately trying to wind up the bloggers on this site. I think it’s the later.

    Yes taking out your phone to pay is cool, but still just a gimmick and nothing to do with integrated ticketing…and we cant get integrated ticketing unless NZBus also use it, as they run 70% of the bus routes, replacing these routes from NZBus would be a long process while the other bus companies get up to speed. AT don’t want to use snapper, however the bus companies etc. can choose their own provider for the technology as long as it meets the requirements.

    This is where our problem is…NZBus indirectly own snapper…so they are not going to want to use anyone else are they.

    I agree with Cameron, we should continue with the release of HOP and force NZBus/Snapper to rebrand until they meet the requirements at their own cost. If that don’t make them hurry, not sure what will.

    1. Mike is an astroturfer with industry links to Snapper (even if he doesn’t work for them directly). He’s just trying to big-up them with strawman arguments, a little misdirection and a cheery demeanour. But this is really the wrong forum for him to bother, Snapper have already lost the ticketing war and the micropayment thing doesn’t seem to concern anyone here.

      1. Careful Nick and Joshua, you guys need to chill out a little. You see me ask a few questions about why you’re all so anti-Snapper and you conclude I must be involved somehow with the company. I’m not even sure what an astro-turfer is, but I guess it hardly matters: I’m daring to question your anti-Snapper approach, therefore I must be wrong.

        I continue to see one little issue in your conclusions that I’m not worth listening to. If I’m so wrong about Snapper, why doesn’t AT just cut loose from them and go it alone?


        1. I think their frustation stems from the fact that you put up straw man arguments and ask the same question over and over again, in spite of it already being answered. I’m sure AT would love to cut Snapper loose at this point and go it alone, as soon as they could figure out how to overcome the branding issue without incurring the cost of rebranding Hop as Hop 2.0.

          1. Hmmm. If that’s their frustration, Cam, why are still bothering talking to me about this? The only reason that I’m still asking this one single question is that people are continuing the debate, but no one’s been able to answer it, yet.

            Let’s see if you can do a better job of asking my one single question: if AT “would love to cut Snapper loose”, why doesn’t it just do that?

            When you answer, I’d encourage you not to forget that Snapper is the company that rolled out co-branded cards. AT hasn’t actually incurred the cost of rolling out a system, yet. Won’t it have budgeted to at least do some roll out itself?


          2. Mike the answer to the question is quite simply “we don’t know”. AT is in no way related to this blog and the writers and the commenters are often fairly critical of it. And its not entirely true to claim that all costs incurred by rolling out Snapper Hop were incurred by Infratil. Obviously all of the costs incurred by AT of developing the brand,etc were then used to benefit Snapper. Also the “Hop helpers” that were used to assist with the transfer from GO Rider to Snapper / Hop were AT workers and presumably paid by them.

          3. Mike AT had been doing everything in their power to get snapper to play ball on ticketing, and snapper has pulled out every trick they can to resist. AT isn’t god, they don’t actually have much power over transport operators. For better or worse our governance arrangements are set up to prevent local government ‘interfering’ with the the business of the private operators . Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe for AT to simply force NZBus to use their Hop instead of snapper would require a bill in parliament to change the law that governs the contracting of services.

            So a final answer to your question, they can’t, they don’t have the power.

          4. Mike, there is two answers to your question.

            1) They Legally cannot at the moment, it’s NZBus decision, but they will be forced when it comes to re-newing contracts at a later point if snapper don’t get their act together

            2) Cost

            We have answered you with the above constantly, successfully and you still continue to ask. If the answer does not satisfy please explain…

  9. I think the point is NZ Bus took a calculated risk by jumping the gun and installing their Snapper system; for them it was a cheap, ready-made system that gave them what they needed and they reckoned they had the clout to force everyone else to use it. As anyone who has used an effective, integrated electronic ticketing system will know, the whole Snapper thing is crap. It’s slow and clunky; the card readers are so poorly constructed they wobble when touched and rather than speed up boarding they effectively slow it down. As consumers we’re fortunate that AT/NZTA had the will not to bend to Infratil’s commercial imperative. Like his employer, it would seem thatMike is obviously deluded by cheap gimmicks; it would be best for all (including NZ Bus) if he just disappeared, along with his Snapper set up.

  10. Mike, NZ Bus came to AT and told them they were rolling out Snapper regardless and against the wishes of AT. Think about what options they would have had available.
    1. Let them do so and completely undermine millions of public spending.
    2 . Try to prevent them which probably requiring taking them to court.
    3. Snapper promises they can get their system to work with in with the integrated ticketing programme.

    The safest and least risky option was #3 but that presented other issues, do they:
    1. Let the system be rolled out as Snapper, forcing everyone to change from go rider to Snapper then force them to change again to Hop when those cards come out. – that would have gone down really well with the public.
    2. Take Snappers word that they can get their machines and cards working with the rest of the system.

    Again they went with the last option and as part of that they launched the Hop brand. AT actually spent about $1mil on promoting and launching Hop so they could avoid the issue with having conflicting brands. Unfortunately Snappers promises have turned out to be empty. Not only can they not get their cards working but the readers aren’t up to it either and this has left AT and the NZTA in bad situation. Aside from the marketing considerable money has been spent trying to get Snapper to work with the system. Walking away from that would not be a good look as it would be seen as wasting public money and still leaves them with the issue of having a major player not part of the system.

    I’d like to hear how you think they could just launch the real system with the Hop name (seeing as they own it) while NZ bus also has a ‘Hop’ card, it would be a recipe for confusion. That is unless you are suggesting current Hop users be forced to change to a Snapper card for a few months then forced to change back to a new Hop card or AT spends millions on developing a new brand again for the thing.

    1. Thanks, Matt L. That sounds like a fair summary of why AT has behaved the way it has. I also accept Louis’ comment that people on this blog are often critical of AT. Unfortunately, however, I still can’t see why this blog’s authors and many of its readers are so anti-Snapper.

      You guys don’t seem like unreasonable people. Why is it that you are so unreasonable about Snapper? The slightest suggestion that there are issues in the Snapper/AT relationship and your knives go out for the company. Yet, you yourself have blogged about the mythical projects that AT has failed to deliver before. Why do you suddenly seem unable to question whether the HOP card is another of these mythical projects?


      1. Mike, no one is anti-Snapper and the knives aren’t out for Snapper – it’s just they’ve had plenty of opportunity to get their system Hop compliant and they’ve failed to deliver on their promises, delaying the implementation of the entire project. Personally I’m really disappointed that they haven’t. Snapper and NZ Bus are refusing to comment or haven’t defend themselves over the project delays, so what other rational conclusion can you come to?

        Unless you have new information to add to this debate, I think we’ve run our course here.

        1. Hey Cameron Pitches, if you’re not anti-Snapper, why aren’t you waiting for the company to present its side of the story? Of course, I readily agree with you that it it hasn’t yet tried to do so. However, I reckon you’re anti-Snapper because you fail to consider the position it’s in: it can’t easily respond to AT because the organisation is a major stakeholder in NZ Bus. I’m sure Snapper hasn’t been the perfect company (which company has?), but at least stop to consider its position before portraying it to be the devil incarnate.

          I’m not actually asking you to accept that Snapper is the most wonderful company around. I’m just asking you to consider its perspective in this matter. Surely, that’s the reasonable thing to do!


          1. Mike,

            in the past NZ bus have popped in here to comment on the odd matter and have been engaged with the blog. If Snapper want to do the same, I suspect it would be most welcome (and I’m sure someone from Snapper keeps an eye on things in here from time to time in any case).



      2. Mike this isn’t about being unreasonable, it’s not about hate or emotion or getting the knives out. Our conclusions here are based on reasonable and sober evaluation of the information we have available. I for one am perfectly able to question AT and NTZA’s delivery of transport projects, as we all have in the past, but in this case all the evidence (see the five NZTA board meeting minutes above as an example) indicates that Thales/AT/NZTA have performed adequately and that Snapper is the spanner in the works that is delaying the project.

        Not getting the answer that Mike Wilkinson the single-minded Snapper spruiker likes isn’t the same thing as not asking the question. It’s simply asking the question and finding an answer that doesn’t suit him.

        I would like to ask you much the question, why is it that you seem unable to even entertain the idea that the Thales product is a superior ticketing system? Why can’t you even consider that Snapper the company, which like all private companies is in the business of making money, might just be operating in it’s own interests to minimise it’s losses? Is it such an unreasonable evaluation to suggest that a company that lost a tender might try to make the best of a bad investment?

  11. Sorry, Nick R. You’re still sounding quite unreasonable to me. For starters, AT hasn’t actually rolled out the Thales project yet; Snapper is the only company with a system rolled out. That means that any reasonable member of the general public has no way of assessing whether the Thales product is superior: if it was, why doesn’t AT just hurry up and roll it out?

    Finally, the NZTA board papers are most definitely not the only evidence around. Is it really a reasonable thing to focus only on them? If you think so, please explain to me how.


    1. Sorry, Nick R. You’re still sounding quite unreasonable to me. For starters, AT hasn’t actually rolled out the Thales project yet; (see above, they are unable until snapper meets the national standards)

      Snapper is the only company with a system rolled out. (Yes, a system that doesn’t meet the National Standard which they require to adhere to. again see above.)

      That means that any reasonable member of the general public has no way of assessing whether the Thales product is superior: (False, A-PASS for the Rugby world cup showed it’s superior speed. However it’s not about having superior technology, again see above)

      if it was, why doesn’t AT just hurry up and roll it out?
      (Cost, confusion for the public, again see above)

      Finally, the NZTA board papers are most definitely not the only evidence around. Is it really a reasonable thing to focus only on them? If you think so, please explain to me how. (No, its not the only evidence, that’s why we have given you plenty of examples throughout snappers history in Auckland of disruption, please however give your evidence to the contrary, because if its the only evidence and there is none on the other side, then Yes, Yes it is reasonable. So please share…)

      All my answers are in brackets so as easy to understand for you

  12. fwiw I like Cameron’s idea to replace the current Hop card with two in different brands – Snapper Hop and Thales Hop, the Thales Hop being the final real Hop card awaiting back end integration with NZ Bus if or when that happens. I carry plenty of cards of all kinds so one more won’t make that much difference.
    From my perspective we should aim to have integrated ticketing introduced sooner than waiting for Snapper to come to the party and hope that public and GB pressure will expedite this.
    I have one friend who is so incensed with how ‘Hop’ doesn’t work that she is going back to paying in cash. Not giving ‘Hop’ a very good name is it.

  13. That might be a tempting suggestion for the blog authors, Bbc. In terms of causing posts to be locked down, shall we see if I can make it two from two? It’s a pity some on this blog don’t enjoy a bit of healthy debate. 😉


  14. There’s ‘healthy debate’ and then there’s being a sanctimonious twat with the listening ability of a bollard.

  15. No need to resort to name calling, Sacha. Also, when it comes to listening ability, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.


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