Snapper is gone. This from AT:

Auckland Transport Chief Executive, David Warburton, said this afternoon, in the interests of protecting Aucklanders’ money and progressing the essential outcome of a first-class integrated ticketing programme for public transport in the region, Auckland Transport has terminated its participation agreement with Snapper Services Limited. The decision was reached late this afternoon.

Dr Warburton says, “This is a regrettable decision but follows our conclusion that Snapper could not modify its system in a suitable timeframe to make it compliant with the technology being progressively developed for Auckland Transport by French firm Thales, which won the major contract to supply the Auckland Transport integrated ticketing system for “HOP” cards and readers.

“Snapper had agreed to have its equipment compliant with the integrated ticketing system to enable bus services to be added to the integrated ticketing programme mix by 30 November.

“Auckland Transport has concluded that Snapper is not able to meet that deadline.

Given Snapper’s delay, and now this termination, Auckland Transport has made a commitment with Thales to deliver a bus solution for Auckland’s bus operators.

HOP/Snapper card users on NZ Bus services will continue to use their current cards until their cards will be swapped out for free next year. The new cards will be known as AT/HOP cards.

“Meanwhile, Auckland Transport will introduce AT HOP on trains and ferries on schedule over the next two months, with rail introduced on 28 October and ferry by 30 November. Bus rollout will commence from April next year”.

Dr Warburton says the outcome brings certainty to the introduction of integrated ticketing in Auckland, internationally recognised as a key factor in increasing patronage.


Commuters can benefit from integrated ticketing by pre-purchasing an AT HOP card which provides discounted fares of up to 10 per cent.  The card is tagged against an electronic reader when commuters enter a bus, train or ferry – and again when they alight – and the correct fare is automatically deducted from the card. Not only is this more convenient for the customer, but loading and unloading is achieved more quickly, assisting better time-keeping.

Limited integrated ticketing was successfully introduced in Auckland at the time of last year’s Rugby World Cup through the A-Pass.

Aucklanders currently make more than 70 million train, ferry and bus trips a year. Increasing public transport patronage is a key feature in developing a compact city, an objective outlined in the recently released Auckland Plan.

Auckland Transport will be making no additional comment on the termination of the participation agreement with Snapper at this time but will be available to provide details in respect of the project going forward.

At last some resolution for this important process. We all look forward to the next stages of the roll out. And for the back story to come out in more detail.

Another AT release here:

Auckland Transport is in the final stages of preparing customers for the next phase of integrated ticketing in Auckland. Rail services will be introduced on 28 October this year with ferry services added by 30 November this year. A new card will also be introduced which will be branded the AT (Auckland Transport) HOP card and, at full implementation, will be the single card used for integrated travel on rail, ferries and the region’s bus services.

Auckland Transport Chief Operating Officer, Greg Edmonds says, “Work is near completion for the implementation of this phase of integrated ticketing on rail and ferry which includes gating at Britomart and Newmarket and the installation of ticket and top up machines across the rail network and ticket readers at ferry wharves.

“Leading up to the introduction of integrated ticketing on trains at the end of October, a number of changes will be made to train ticketing which are very important for customers to take note of. These changes include:

  • From 10 September customers can buy their tickets before they board. Ultimately all tickets will be purchased off board as per other international cities. Tickets can be purchased from new Ticket and Top-Up machines on all train station platforms.  Customers should be aware that tickets may be checked either before customers board, while they are on the train or at their destinations.
  • From 28 October 10 trip tickets, Day Rover and Monthly Passes for trains will be replaced by the Auckland Transport pre pay card. Monthly passes will be loaded onto the AT/HOP card and stored value can be added to the card to pay for single trips.  Other passes will be replaced by the AT/ HOP card over time.
  • More detailed information will be available as changes are implemented and Auckland Transport will keep reminding customers of these changes through a variety of communications channels”.

Mr. Edmonds says, “We will have two cards in the market for a period with the HOP Snapper card currently being used for NZ Bus services, but this card will be phased out by Auckland Transport with the final introduction of AT HOP”.

Dave Brash Group Manager, Planning & Investment for the New Zealand Transport Agency says, “Integrated ticketing and fares is an essential feature of effective modern public transport systems, so together with Auckland Transport, the NZTA has made a significant investment into the Auckland integrated ticketing scheme.

The roll out of the new AT HOP scheme on Auckland trains and ferries is the result of a successful working partnership between Auckland Transport, the NZTA, transport operators and Thales and other equipment and service suppliers.  The NZTA congratulates Auckland Transport on achieving this major milestone towards improved public transport for the people of Auckland.”

Mayor Brown says, “We really are on the way towards a world-class city with integrated ticketing well advanced, new electric trains which start to arrive next year and the City Rail Link designation under way”.

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  1. Yes agree it’s good to finally get some certainty around the project – it has been a farce. And good that it seems Thales will step in with the bus solution for NZ Bus services. I wonder where this leaves Parkeon, who by the sounds of it were struggling. Perhaps Thales will take over providing equipment on all buses?

    1. It does kinda read that Thales will be providing the equipment doesn’t it? I guess that will be the fastest solution, albeit, probably more expensive. At least we will have some certainty.

    2. Yes after posting that comment I went back to read that bit again and you’re right – it does sound like Thales will be providing the bus solution for everyone.

      1. I have already emailed AT seeking clarification on this point as I remember being told that Thales were only interested in providing their readers if they got the entire bus fleet. Once NZbus went with snapper they withdrew their offer to the other companies which is why they had to go looking to Parkeon in the first place.

        1. I haven’t followed this that closely so I’m a bit surprised that Thales wasn’t at least required to provide the readers even if only to some companies/as needed. I mean I understand their POV, but I would have thought the AT contract specified they had to provide the readers if needed, even if at additional cost. So they only had to provide the systems and standards and it was left up to AT and the PT companies to find the readers (and other parts of the system?) themselves?

          Or did the contract say they were to provide the readers to all companies then Snapper and NZ Bus got in to a huff and managed to convince someone to let them install the supposed to be compatible Snapper system themselves. So since AT had to modify the contract to allow this, Thales said ‘er sorry, no dice’ when it was suggested they still provide the readers, but only to some companies (and not NZ Bus who represent a substanial proportion of the market).

        2. The original contract that was signed was for the back end system as well as the train and ferry readers. The bus companies were allowed to use any company they liked to provide bus readers providing they plugged into the backend system. Thales offered their solution but when NZbus chose Snapper, they decided it wasn’t worth it for them to offer it for the rest of them.

          I’m not entirely sure but I think that this situation is partly a result of historical stances where the bus companies fought to remain as independent as possible so didn’t want a central body dictating how things would be.

    3. Snapper – out
      Parkeon – out
      Other bus companies deposit to Parkeon – out
      NZ bus snapper readers – out

      AT – in
      Thales – in

  2. This incompatibility is the result of free-market competition. The government should have set standards for these cards before they were ever introduced. In fact, the government should have been the ones rolling them out.

    Well, at least they’ll be swapping out the old cards for free.

    1. To use a common marketing term – Yeah, right. If, not though, it will be a black eye for Mr Brownlee. How will he worm his way out of this? I can see some fun question time coming up in parliament.


    As to “off-the-run” – I think the answer is “only if they refuse to give in and put AT-HOP/Thales equipment on their Auckland buses”. I can’t imagine Infratil would be stupid enough to try to push it at this late date, but then my imagination is weak.

    1. Will NZ Bus have to pay for these card readers or will it be left to the taxpayer / ratepayer? If not, then what penalties will apply to Infratil / NZ Bus for their failure? At least it is good to see AT finally stand up and say “enough”.

        1. I reckon any money AT pays NZ Bus now will be money well spent, to either make NZ Bus go away for good – or in the next round of contract negotations, AT will be able to pull back that money and more from NZ Bus’s contracts when the new PTOM model comes into play so bring it on I say.

  4. It’s worth remembering that while it’s better than nothing, ‘up to 10%’ is a pretty feeble discount. Naughty Snapper provides a minimum of 20% discount on Wellington fares.

    1. Remember that once all operators are on-line a proper integrated ticketing system will be introduced. The fare structure will get a complete overhaul. Any fares or multi-pass systems are purely temporary, and designed to match what we currently have to make the switch-over simple.

    2. Thats because they are/were trying to buy a business model in Wellington to make Snapper sustainable. Perhaps if they hadn’t been giving such steep discounts on the Wellington Snapper card user they could have bought the proper card readers for their Auckland buses so would still be in play?

      1. it’s more likely because NZ Bus/Infratil owns or has a financial interest in ALL bus travel in Wellington, no pesky Birkenhead/H&E/Richies/et al

        the unexpected outcome of the Transport Services Licensing Act and asscoiated reforms means that there is not competition for bus contracts in Wellington

  5. Don’t care if we (rate/taxpayers) are paying a little bit more. Very stoked that this project is now moving full steam ahead with definitive dates that appear like they will be met. Finally we can get this whole project fully completed within what seems like the very near future (although the Parkeon situation looks interesting now).

  6. If the Thales system is running all the back end and every single reader in Auckland, i.e the whole damn lot, well that has to be a recipe for a very robust and flexible ticketing system right?

  7. Herald seem to have gotten this completely wrong: (archive They say “Auckland Transport has terminated its agreement with Snapper, after the French firm was unable to meet timeframes.”

    But unless I’m completely wrong (and the comments here seem to support that I am not), Snapper isn’t French. They’re an Infratil subsidiary. After they failed to win the integrated ticketing contract, they were allowed to proceeded to roll out in Auckland provided their system was compatible with that designed by Thales (who won the contract and are French) but after multiple failures, they’ve been canned.

    1. Yes, Thales is French, Snapper (Services Ltd) is not.
      The Herald never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.

      It seems odd for a bunch of Kiwis to be rooting for the French guys to win over their fellow countrymen, but there you go, it does happen – Hmm, I can feel a feed of freshly baked Snapper coming on for dinner.

    2. That article is bizarre. Apparently Snapper won the main contract and now Thales is coming on board to save the day. Do they even bother to search their own archives before writing?

  8. I see the roll out for NZ Bus is now delayed until 2013. Not surprising given that they will now have to rip out their machines and replace them. Arguably a good outcome for NZ BUS is they now get potentially another year before they have to log on to the AT system.

  9. Note I’ve added the latest AT release to the post above…

    This is the key info: Mr. Edmonds says, “We will have two cards in the market for a period with the HOP Snapper card currently being used for NZ Bus services, but this card will be phased out by Auckland Transport with the final introduction of AT HOP”.

  10. First, delighted that Snapper has been told where to go. Its technology is clearly substandard (I use it daily in Auckland), and its behaviour from the time of the contract being awarded to Thales to now has been deplorable.

    Second, AT has to wear some blame here. They allowed themselves to essentially be manipulated by someone much more cunning than them. NZ Bus should NEVER have been allowed to roll out Snapper cards branded as HOP. I remember thinking at the time how badly this was going to play out. It was so clear what Snappers strategy was, and AT played right into their hands.

    Third, AT’s communication has been (and continues to be) shocking throughout the whole process. I’ve read that press release a couple of times, and its still not clear to me what is going on. Why can’t they say anything clearly? The press release says one thing, then immediately contradicts itself.

    e.g. “While Snapper services will be withdrawn from the project immediately … HOP/Snapper card users on NZ Bus services will continue to use their current cards until their cards will be swapped out for free next year [in April].”

    “We tried for a negotiated settlement regarding the termination … but Snapper’s position was unacceptable … At this stage there is no settlement and we are progressing the termination”.

    If you could progress the termination with no settlement, then why would you ‘try’ for a negotiated settlement?

    Also, why is the bus rollout being delayed until April?

    Someone needs to write a book on this sorry saga.

      1. Sorry Patrick, “Steven Joyce” is the wrong Answer – its not Steven Joyce’s fault totally, the correct answer is:
        “Political Interference by National Government Ministers” (note the plural ‘s’ there). There’s been more than one set of Ministerial fingers all over this,
        Joyce happens to have left the largest and hammiest prints, but his were only 1 of many.

      2. Crony capitalism. Our Government (and the opposition – don’t forget Trevor Mallard spruiking for “Kiwi” Snapper) will fall over themselves to do any stupid thing a rich Kiwi suggests to them, because of a superstitious belief that the rich are better than us. Exhibit A: Jackson, Sir Peter.

    1. 1st December 2009:

      Basically, this is Infratil/Snapper throwing a big spanner in the works of ARTA’s integrated ticketing project – which is currently being negotiated between ARTA and French company Thales. In some respects, this is really annoying, as it potentially puts the whole idea of a single integrated ticket at risk – after all it’s unlikely that we would rip out all the Snapper machines to replace them with Thales machines after just a couple of years. So, it’s likely that we’ll be stuck with Snapper in some shape or form forever now (at least the machines, it’s possible the cards could be phased out).

      And I also said this:

      So overall for now I’m going to sit on the fence. I do think this has been a pretty smart strategic move by Snapper/Infratil, and I also think that ARTA almost deserve to have their plans stuffed up – they’ve messed around on integrated ticketing for so long it kind of serves them right. However, my concern is that Auckland gets the best ticketing system for public transport possible – and I’m not sure whether today’s developments aid that in the long-term. However, I am looking forward to faster boarding times on my bus from next year onwards.

      And this from an NZ Herald article at the time:

      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.”

  11. If Snapper were at fault, then why the $5m payout?

    Simple, really.

    The fault must lay elsewhere.

    So, who will be held accountable?

      1. Didn’t Parkeon only get involved after Snapper were ‘allowed’ into the scheme as Thales deemed that only supporting part of the bus network with their machines was not worthwhile?

      2. Oh Bob, can’t you leave it now? Your team has lost and was always in the wrong. You and Mike will just have to lick your wounds.

      3. Bob, I haven’t commented much as I am on my holiday but there is a lot that I have heard about the issue that hasn’t been posted here. Unless you have some facts to back up your statements then please drop it.

        As for the Parkeon issue, my guess is it was about reducing the risk and getting the best overall deal for Auckland.

    1. Either way, this means we can get a fully integrated system hopefully by mid next year as opposed to all non-NZ Bus companies getting on board in early 2014.

  12. And we will now get the gay cat logo everywhere: welcome to the AT Hop! The cheapest and, aesthetically, the ugliest part of the integrated ticketing fiasco.

  13. Good job AT (took long enough) dumping the stinking fish from our buses.

    Bad job – National Party cronies for forcing Snapper in. Bad job NZ Bus for wasting so much time and money from ratepayers.

    1. You mean a good job by NZ BUS. Heaps of money earned and proves how easily companies can interfere in government dealings.

  14. So glad to read this from London.
    Should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. There is hope for proper integrated ticketing in Auckland, Huzzah!

  15. Good decision by AT… but do you think it will be that simple? Snapper will sue AT for this. wait and see. Auckland Transport better their documents and arguments ready to be sued!!! this will take another 3 years folks!… by the way what happened to Parkeon? Guess what!!! Parekon also says Auckland Transport’s and NITIS specification is not good enough to create a system.. So they havent started their development. I know the NITIS (NZTA) specification inside out (all 6 volumes) and trust me, its easy for Snapper to claim AT or NZTA didnt have their specification baseline. Hence the delay.

    1. Well if you were a bus company that was hoping to win tenders over the next 3 years for all Auckland bus routes under the new PTOM contracts, you’d have to be very ballsy to risk all that which is worth _way_ more than $8m or whatever $ is disputed.
      The PTOM contracts are the sort of long term contract that can realistically be awarded to small companies as being long term they will do proper business plans for them, so having existing buses isn’t necessary. Which should make NZ Bus really think hard.
      I congratulate AT for making a final no-compromises decision, even if it costs more in the end at least things are moving again with a real expectation that deadlines could be met.

      1. Interesting tactic.

        All the other bus companies have been screw over too, but you dont see them complaining. Yep – they want good PTOM contracts.

  16. Thales were out of bus solution until March. Thales restarted working on their solution from April this year! Thales bus solution i great, but cannot handle many Auckland scenarios e.g. Floating Stages, School Bus services, Rail replacement, which Snapper can do because of their fare table architecture. This means Thales will need to do a lot of development to be useful in Auckland.

    1. Even if true, that’s more a problem with Auckland’s seriously overcomplicated fare structure than Thales’ system.

      If this forces a simplification of the fare structure at time of implementation, then I welcome it.

    2. If they had been left alone to do the whole project I don’t think time would have been an issue. I expect these kinds of things would have been resolved already.

    3. If Snapper could do that, why hasn’t it already been done here in Auckland? What Snapper has on offer here in Auckland is so woeful. They don’t even do daily or monthly passes which makes Snapper the most expensive ticket for regular PT travellers like myself. The Snapper card I own hardly gets used because I keep using cash to pay for day passes and/or purchasing a monthly pass at the ticket office. When I do use Snapper I often regret it after I realize I was better off using a non-Snapper-capable fare product. And before people point to Wellington as an example of a good Snapper implementation, I merely point at the fact Snapper not support all fares in Wellington either such as day passes or even real integrated passes. I look forward to the Thales system which I suspect will work out better in the long run once the new integrated fare system is in place.

  17. Well all I can say is good riddance Snapper, but now those of us who purchase train and bus fares now need two cards, and cannot now purchase discovery day passes on the train….please let them be available at the machines!!!

    This almighty screw up also means that other smarts such as putting a cap on cost per day for travel on any medium has to wait till NZ bus get rid of their machines….we have been waiting long enough and thanks to Infatril we are awaiting a year longer.

  18. Hey guys, it’s one of your resident Snapper trolls here that Mr Anderson was looking forward to hearing from. He needn’t fear, though. I don’t have time to post much, tonight. Hopefully, I won’t still manage to cause comments to be closed off, once again.

    Ok, I imagine I’m defending what many of you will regard as indefensible. Hopefully, you’ll also admire mine (and Bob’s) honour in coming forward tonight, if not our sense. As some of you hve already noted, it will now likely be obvious who is really at fault, if the technology doesn’t work. For the sake of Akl ratepayers, I must wish Thales best of luck for steering through the quagmire that appears to be AT’s relationship with decisions involving technology.

    Whatever happens, I’ll catch you guys again at some stage soon.


  19. Moving on from the politics… not clear how AT is handling the dual changeover.
    I’ve got a HOP now – use it for the LINK occasionally, but mainly use the train each day. Do I:

    1. ‘swap’ my card in September / October. I get an AT HOP for the train, but lose a HOP for the LINK….
    2. Pay $10 for a new AT HOP, ‘cos I cannot buy 10-trips anymore; I get to keep a HOP for the LINK, but then do I swap this for free (as indicated on the MAXX announcement) when the Snapper/Hop is made redundant, in return for…erm…a second AT HOP….

    AT – I’m confused. Forgetting the mess in the back office, just what is going to happen for your customers over the next couple of months?

    One bit of good news in the midst of this all – the MAXX announcement on trains indicates that the $1 charge for bikes is gone. Hoorah!

    1. More pointedly – no mention of a free AT HOP for current HOP users in September / October. Not happy if we are being hit with a charge now if the Snapper swap-out is subsequently free.

    2. Last time AT just clipped a hole in your GO Rider when you got a HOP card – meaning you could still use both in the mean while but couldn’t swap for 2 new HOP cards. Presumably we’ll see the same thing this time – if you can clip a hole in the HOP card and have it still work!

      1. Yeah – that was a straightforward swap. What’s confusing me is that the announcement on MAXX makes no mentions of swap-outs in Sept/Oct/Nov – only a $10 charge. Hopefully it’s a simple omission – another unfortunate AT communications oversight?

      2. I remember reading on the snapper website that although holes technically can be put in them it is possible to damage the aerial even if you don’t hit it directly. Not that I trust them – it’s probably just marketing for their their holders/lanyards.

  20. Andrew- Agree, but Integrated Fares is not a solution you can implement in 1 month. Take another 3 years as rezoning etc. need to happen.

    James – Thales CANNOT do it. Snapper can do it in a funny way. Its smoke and mirror in the background, but it can work. Snapper can do monthly pass now as Multi Journey product is withdrawn from market. Problem is that you cant mix stage based fare (1 stage, 2 stage etc.) with zone based (Monthly Pass, Multi Journey). By the way new Thales solution will not support Return trips of any type (e.g. Airbus)

    Bryce- You will be surprised. Thales architecture doesn’t accommodate it. *Thales know it*

  21. Voakladmin01, what I’m feeling right now isn’t contempt – far from it – it’s sadness at the amount this fiasco will cost, money down the drain like. And I feel it for all involved, AT, Snapper, but most of all Auckland ratepayers.


    1. You will have to forgive me some day down the track to my open and naked hostility towards Snapper currently. It annoys me Snapper has delayed integrated ticketing in Auckland and is going to cost us a nice penny on the way out – LOOK OUT AUCKLAND COUNCIL come 2013. But as a select few here know this protracted situation with Snapper has also costed me personally.

      Someone said somewhere below that someone should write a book on this – I already have…

  22. Something tells me that this is only going to dig the hole deeper. Snapper did not fall over on their own; they were pushed and this will have repercussions.

      1. Thats right, the hole going deeper will just show they should never have been there in the first place, regardless of AT’s handling/mishandling of issues later.

  23. Bollocks to Snapper’s press release.
    They’ve behaved like spoilt brats from the beginning. I don’t think anyone, from members of the public to bus users to people at AT, can genuinely believe Snapper are trustworthy.
    Thales has a successful record in establishing integrated ticketing. Hopefully Thales/AT can finish the project with no more interference.

  24. What happens if you tag into a station (say at Newmarket), but the train is delayed for whatever reason and you decide to catch a bus instead, can you leave the station and tag out without having to pay anything or a penalty?

  25. Will the tertiary discount still apply to the new AT Hop Card? Is there even a tertiary discount option….as a student, I dont want to sound ungrateful for what we already do get but I dont really think i can afford to pay full price and have no other way to uni

      1. Good to know all of that. I’m still none the wiser as to whether I get to swap my HOP for an AT card in October without being charged. Any information?

  26. Observing at a distance, but from someone who has used Oystercard, and uses a smart(ish) ticketing system a lot. What went wrong here is the intersection of a local government regime which didn’t appreciate the commercial realities facing the bus companies, meeting a bus company which didn’t appreciate the political and financial realities facing Auckland Transport. This is a multi-part disaster from which no-one is going to come out looking good.

    Basically, follow the money. I think a lot of the reaction of Infratil/NZBus/Snapper, is not because they do make good profits from their Auckland operation but because they don’t. That said, things should never have got to this stage!

    1. Installing the equipment is only one small part. Thales have to finish designing and testing their solution, and construct and test all the equipment before the rollout can even begin. Snapper already had their bus solution up and running in Wellington, but it still would have taken them more than six weeks to get all the equipment in.

      1. If you watch that YouTube video i nthe link above and listen to the guy from HTS speaking you’ll see that most of the hard work for the buses has already been done.
        Putting in the wiring harnesses, tubing for putting the readers near the entry and exit doors, and onboard electrics is the really hard bit that take the most time to physically install.
        [26km of wiring anyone?].

        Then providing that Thales can leverage what NZ Bus already has in place on the buses, the on bus rollout may be less difficult than it was originally for Snapper to do for the HOP/Snapper card rollout.
        I don’t know how NZ Bus are going to have the old system and the new system side by side though on the buses – with the Go Rider card, that was up near the cashbox by the the new HOP/Snapper readers didn’t go near the Go-Rider stuff, but with Thales presumably going to put their readers in the same place on the buses then you’d wonder if a phased rollout is an option or not?

        Of course, the bit that must work is the electronics (readers, black box that the readers hook into etc) and the software that calculates where you got and off and how much to ping your AT/HOP card.
        And that is the one area that seems to be a little bit hard to fathom from this point as to how it will pan out.

        But if AT/HOP can work for ferries and trains ok you’d think buses in comparison would be a more of the same just with more mobile device (aka Buses) involved than the few train stations and ferry terminals.

        BTW We need a way better name than AT/HOP for the new Snapper-less system.
        I think HOP as a brand is pretty much dead (along with Snapper in Auckland) so time to get a new name for HOP now AT before you confuse the heck out of the commuters.
        That way the commuters can see the new system being rolled out across Ferries, Trains and then buses in the next 12 months.

  27. I don’t understand why this blog and most of the comments were so against Snapper. It works well and is popular here in Wellington. Has anyone on this blog actually used Snapper? If so step up to the mike and tell us why you felt so let down.

    1. Slow as a snail, tag on and off difficulties especially on inner city buses where you need to MOVE, interfering with the entire roll out of the Thales system, and the old Chip cards pottered along fine any way – so why replace it with technically an inferior system…

      That is why Snapper is loathed here in Auckland – and yes I have used it Snapper and detest that much I rather go cash fare as it is faster…

    2. Ian aside from its poor performance it is the role Snapper have played in disrupting and delaying real integrated ticketing, and, thefore, the big prize, integrated fares, that has made us all so angry. True fare integration across all modes and not just a payment card for some buses is a vital part of the drive towards Ak actually having a viable PT network after nearly 60 years of pretty much having no option but to drive.

      Hence the frustration will a petulant company and a meddling government.

      1. This is one of the few times that Patrick and I (being from different sides of the spectrum per-se 😉 ) will openly agree on something. Now THAT says something there and there in its own right 😛 😀

        I think I need another coffee – anyone else?

    3. And it comes with an at best 10% discount on cash fares, and has been pointed out before, is often way slower than cash when it comes to actually getting on board a bus..

    4. Ian, I don’t like Snapper because the swipe is slow and prone to errors compared to Thales’ system (I’ve used both, Thales is considerably better).

  28. It appears that we’re all wrong – Snapper IS integrated and I know because the CEO told me so!

    What a ridiculous mess, but I’m thrilled the Snapper has been cast off of the line by AT. Looks like finally Auckland will get a good, proper Integrated Ticketing solution. Now, when will Wellington?

    1. Once Thales is up and running in Auckland next year, then presumably the way is cleared for the national rollout of the Thales system as the NZ wide standard for intergrated ticketing – as was originally required by NZTA when they got involved with the (then Auckland only) Integrated fare system rollout.

      So, you may see your little Wellington snapper fishies fleeing from the encroaching Thales powered HOP card sharks sooner than later…

        1. Hi Ross,

          I actually think there is quite large benefits from a nationwide system. The reason being that air travel is eating up an increasing share of long distance travel in NZ, which means that many more people are getting to their destinations without vehicles.

          So having one card that allows you to use your stored value (I imagine it would only be stored value that was transferable) would be great, speaking for myself personally.

          I’d hate to see the nationwide integration drop off the radar, because it’s one of the areas where NZ could be at the forefront internationally because of our size. The only other that comes close is the Netherlands, where an OV chip-kaart can be used across their heavy rail and metro systems.

          Again I found it incredibly useful there …


        2. Hey Stu, perhaps we can get the airlines inboard too and we can just rock up to the gate and swipe our cards there too! Haha.

          There’s only 4.5 m of us smaller than many a city with these systems…

        3. We need a nationwide transport payment system so that we can all pay the tolls required to fund the RoNS the Government is hell bent of building.

          And also, if AT do bring in a network charge to pay for the CRL as Len wants to do, do we want yet ANOTHER payment system for that on top of the AT/HOP system we as Auckland ratepayers already paid some $40m for?

        4. Why can’t bank/visa/transport cards be all integrated onto one card? Then it truly would be a ‘smart card’. Getting the banks to on-board means that they can deal with all the admin costs etc. It could also be rolled out nationwide easily.

    2. Integration with different systems. Thales is just another computer system, like EFT-POS is just another computer system. Unfamiliar with what integration means in a systems sense?

      1. Bob,
        Integration in the PT sense means that you can use any/all modes or combination of modes (Buses, Train, Ferry, even multiple buses from different operators), to complete your journey.
        The system will take care of giving you the best/accurate price for that journey based on where you started and where you end up and will then divvy up the money taken from you to each operator of the various transport modes you used on your journey according the rules agreed with AT and the operators.

        As you might imagine there is a lot of back end stuff happening to enable all that. Its way more than EFTPOS on steroid as so many parties are involved – with EFTPOS you have you/your bank, the merchants EFTPOS provider and the merchants bank involved to complete the transaction. With Integrating ticketing and fares you have more parties than this. And they are all involving customers and modes of transport that are mobile.

        A little old Snapper card on a NZ Bus just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore for this sort of thing in Auckland and doesn’t really in Wellington either.

      2. Greg,

        No need for the lecture. I work in systems integration.

        The point is that Snapper clearly does integrate with a number of different systems. They’re all talking happily to each other, as we speak. The Thales system is just another computer system to talk to. One more system to integrate.

        The question I would pose to you is this:

        “Were Snapper given what they needed by the other parties in order to able to integrate?”.

        Because, if not, then how could they? It would be like trying to run a race with both legs tied.

  29. I would like to comment on the technologies as they relate to mobile usage – trying to be non-partisan.

    Mobile is clearly going to be a critical method of payment for many (if not most) PT users in the very near future – I don’t think this is up for debate as the experience will be so much richer and more flexible than a physical card. The mobile telecommunications and payments (EMV) worlds have converged on Java based Smartcards, and Snapper also uses this technology. This is why is was relatively easy for 2degrees to get Snapper onto the SIM card and get it to behave like a Snapper card in an NFC phone. In the latest iteration of Snapper’s app the SIM card is even being personalised over the air in realtime by a TSM (ABnote) on behalf of Snapper using exactly the same model that will eventually be used for Credit Cards on mobiles – one of the very first examples globally. Again, partisanship aside, this is pretty cool.

    As I understand it there are significant challenges with getting Thales’s Mifaire Desfire (a proprietary system owned by NXP) onto a SIM card either pre-installed at manufacture or delivered over the air. There are no standards around this and each SIM vendor is working away on proprietary methods which means it will be expensive. In addition there can only be one Mifaire based solution active at any one time so multiple solutions (e.g. transport + hotel/building access) cannot dynamically co-exist in the way that multiple Java applications can.

    Now back when AT/ARTA were evaluating the solutions I would guess in 2007-2009 the penetration of Smartphones was only just gaining momentum. But today they are going to be of primary importance in the overall payments ecosystem and I hope that AT/Thales have a clear plan for how these will be integrated. I know there has been an announcement from AT/Thales/Telecom regarding an upcoming trial at some point – but there are still significant question marks around whether Desfire will be able to be credibly delivered over mobile.

    It is unfortunate that there is such a lack of globally co-ordinated public transport standards like there are for Telecommunications and Banking.

    1. Marija, thanks for your very interesting post. One thing I find odd is why the likes of Snapper’s NFC system have to be installed on a SIM card. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this basically means you can only use whichever system your mobile phone carrier chooses — e.g. if you are a 2degrees customer you can only use Snapper, a Telecom customer can only use HOP/Thales (for example), and Vodafone something else etc. Of course I realise that carriers could go down the path of selling different SIMs for different NFC system such as a 2degrees/HOP, 2degrees/Snapper card, 2degrees/VisaPayWave, and so on but that would be incredibly confusing for end-users.

      I would have preferred a system that was independent of the SIM card and thus independent of whichever carrier I happen to use for my mobile phone (and thus wouldn’t need a special SIM like 2degrees/Snapper). My ideal vision would be for my mobile phone to interface with the Visa/Mastercard PayWave/PayPass, Thales/HOP, Snapper and any other contact-less systems (think: building cards, loyalty cards, etc) just by adding an app to the mobile which would then ‘listen’ for the appropriate signals for the system they are to interface with. Is this even possible with current NFC technology?

        1. Thanks Bryce – I was just about to publish a similar link to a press release in April 2012 from Thales, Westpac, Telecom, and AT where they suggested that they were already trialling a mobile phone payment system. So not only can Thales do it, it appears they already are.

        2. Hi Bryce,

          Actually this PR supports exactly what I am saying! This relates to Thales work in Global Platform based Java card systems – this is NOT what they are implementing in Auckland. So the ideal would be to say to Thales, now that you have the whole system to yourself could you please implement the Global Platform based system and not the Mifaire one. I suspect it is unfortunately too late?

      1. Hi James, the system system that you describe above is absolutely the way that Java cards work, but unfortunately not anything Mifaire related, at least not today.

        Java card applications can all co-exist and be compatible at the same time and there is nothing technically stopping the Snapper applet being put onto Vodafone or Telecom SIM cards, along with Visa/MC and any other other Java applets. They can all sit there and the reader addresses only the specific one it wants to engage with. Mifaire Classic has an implementation called Mifaire4Mobile which tries to copy some of this functionality but attempts to include Desfire have so far failed due to infighting by the stakeholders.

        All I’m trying to say is that Java card standards are much more open and flexible than Mifaire and align with Teclos’ and Banks, but I appreciate that in 2007-2009 this would not have been as clear cut.

        1. It’s a very valid point Marija and something to keep an eye on … read that press release and tell me what you think (just Google “Thales mobile phone payment Auckland Transport”).

        2. Hi Stu,

          This PR your refer to came out on the Monday of the same week that 2degrees and Snapper released their service, so the timing was interesting. Even so, this is related to Gemalto integrating Desfire onto the Telecom SIM cards. Gemalto is the world leader at doing this and I have no doubt they could deliver although it will be much more difficult for all parties to get the overall solution going than what 2degrees did with Snapper.

          The real difference is that the Snapper applet could relatively easily be loaded over the air onto a compatible Telecom or Vodafone SIM card from any SIM card vendor, whereas the Thales Desfire applet has to be put onto the SIM card at manufacture in a highly proprietary way and it looks like only Gemalto can do that today. And then once installed there is no way to manage it over the air.

  30. Not only has Doloras a potentially weak imagination(her ? words) but like some others on the blog happy to avoid facts and fill void with wild assumption and self righteous opinion. I am an avid follower of the blog given the excellent contributions that most make in articulating real solutions to real problems and back this up with strong empirical evidence – except in this case where you continue to vilify my business and more importantly the 2000 people who work in it.

    Some facts – NZ Bus had a failing ticketing system that required replacement in 2010. One of the fundamentals in business is your ability to collect and account for revenue, the system in place at the time was in cardiac arrest and we were unable to run the business effectively. Multiple providers were investigated one was unable to provide an AIFS compliant solution for 18mths at the time. The other was Snapper a system we had introduced into Wellington with speed and at no-cost to ratepayers that allowed us to continue operation. It was a system we knew well , was stable , had integrity and we could implement into Auckland at speed. This was done at our cost.

    Why anyone who has half an ounce of commercial acumen would think we would actively delay the implementation of Integrated ticketing is beyond us. It is one of the fundamental step changes required to deliver growth, efficient/effective/reliable public transport along with network and fare simplification.

    NZ Bus has always been committed to Integrated ticketing and supportive of the need for customers to be able to travel seamlessly across modes , we have openly supported simplification of the network,fares,removal of legacy contractual inefficiencies i.e. bus routes running alongside rail. We are supportive and understand the need for rail, ferries, cyclists and of course bus to be planned for and operate in a cohesive, seamless manner.

    We also have acknowledged some of the historical contracting issues i.e. suggesting that we handback $2m of subsidy from a legacy contract to enable the delivery of the central flagship services, where we also invested $16m in new fleet to put on these services, created 50+ new jobs in our business. Alongside this in our arrangement with ADL and Kiwi saw 100+ new jobs created in the Bay of Plenty where with our Fleet Replacement program will see $38m go into this economy over the next 3 years. We have delivered 150 new buses into Auckland already under this Fleet Replacement program and planned to deliver 240 more in the next couple of years.

    We have led the industry in Health and Safety and Training investing over $10m per annum in our people in Systems. We have invested $8m in building new and upgrading facilities that we inherited delivering a better environment for our people to work in. We will continue to invest heavily in these spaces as our people are important to us.

    As for the massive profits we are supposed to make according to some on this blog we have managed in real terms to reduce the subsidies paid to us over the time of our ownership. Last financial year we delivered $46m ebitda and invested $64 m in new fleet – do the maths.

    As a partner we have always delivered what we said we would deliver and I would challenge anyone who has a grasp of the facts to counter this.

    NZ Bus is supportive of an integrated network as this is the key to take out decades of waste and inefficiencies that have been built into public transport by those who have not the courage to take the step change necessary largely based on term in office. We have also said that we are happy for open book, sharing risk and reward with our partners and will back our constructive values based approach to problem solving, our organizational capability and our passion for PT to deliver the best possible outcomes for our people, our customers, our partners and our shareholders.

    Lastly back to Doloras – I don’t need to nor have i ever engaged “TROLLS” for those who actually know me well if i have a comment to make or a counter view I will always table it , I am also prepared to listen to the views of others if factual. Unlike yourself Doloras I do not hide behind a pseudonym.

    Have a nice day 🙂

    Zane Fulljames

    1. I don’t know about others but I certainly appreciate your input here Zane. I also feel sorry for NZ Bus actually as I’m sure you were hoping that Snapper would be able to make their machines (or even their card) compatible with the Thales back office system.

      I don’t have any particular beef with NZ Bus (as long as a strike/lockout is avoided!) Customer service from bus drivers has improved vastly in the past few years, the fleet has improved hugely (even though the decision to choose pretty small buses from ADL when patronage was growing so quickly was rather bizarre) and I genuinely believe that NZ Bus wants to “grow the pie” in improving Auckland’s PT system. Not just protect its current bit of the pie.

      1. I don’t think it’s fair to criticise NZ Bus’ decision on fleet renewals.

        Firstly, we don’t have much information on their capital versus running costs, i.e. the economics of the equation – it may be that NZ bus got a great deal from ADL. Secondly, NZ Bus (along with Ritchies) have been pushing to purchase double-decker buses to serve high-demand routes, which will in turn allow the smaller ADLs to be used on secondary routes. Thus I see the small ADLs as a step on the road towards a more diverse fleet, rather than a step towards a smaller fleet. Thirdly, AT’s proposed new network places an emphasis on frequency, which essentially means that in some case we may be replacing one big bus with two medium buses – thereby achieving the same if not more capacity.

        The only question mark I have about bus renewals in Auckland (and this goes for all the operators) is that are not buying buses with wider doors. With smartcard tag on/off there is an opportunity (and need) to get two streams of people boarding and exiting the bus at the same time. This would greatly reduce dwell times, and all at the expense of a couple of seats. I think the narrow doors on our buses are a much larger constraint on the system than the physical size of the buses and something that the operators may want to think more carefully about in the future.

    2. Hi Zane,

      Thanks for fronting up and challenging some of the negative pre-conceptions that people have formed on these issues.

      In my experience, NZ Bus staff are both professional and passionate about improving public transport in Auckland. It’s clear to me (and many others I talk to) that public transport in Auckland is that much better off with NZ Bus in charge, than it was under Stagecoach. The aggressive ADL fleet renewal being one of the most obvious examples of the positive change that has occurred under NZ Bus’ ownership. Your company has also taken a leadership role in promoting new PT technologies, such as hybrid-electric double deckers and battery buses, which have clear benefits for the community, and most importantly helped to front-foot major network changes that will ultimately create a more legible, simple, frequent network.

      In terms of integrated ticketing in Auckland, I have always (I think?) restricted my own comments to the merits of the respective technologies, rather than speculated on the intentions of the organisations involved. What I am happy about the recent developments is that we Auckland (and the companies involved) now have some certainty about the roll-out of integrated ticketing. Obviously that certainty may have come at a cost – and Snapper and/or NZ Bus may rightfully be due some compensation; I have faith in the NZ legal system to work through these issues.

      Going forward, my main desire is that these outstanding legal claims are resolved quickly without too much money being spent on lawyers, because that ultimately means that both AT and NZ bus will have less money to spend on public transport. That may be naive, but I’m just going to put it out there. Hopefully this blog can play a constructive role in defusing and de-polarising this debate.


      P.s. And just in case anyone was wondering: I am not an NZ Bus troll 🙂

    3. Hi Zane,
      It’s great that as CEO you stick up for your company and staff. I don’t know that I have seen your staff vilified on this blog though… your board perhaps, your single shareholder certainly, but not the staff.

      To follow up on your multiple providers investigated to provide an AIFS compliant system; it sounds like multiple was two – is that right? And can I ask if the shortlist was drawn up by the CEO (you) or the board? Because here I have an issue with corporate governance – if the board is including Snapper in a shortlist that is one thing, if the board is actually recommending Snapper then that would seem to me to be quite different.

      In hindsight it seems neither of the providers could provide AIFS within 18 months so perhaps the other one would have been the better option and saved everyone a lot of pain and delay. And on that note, was the other system an all or nothing? I.e. could you have got a partial system up and running quickly and brought in AIFS integration after 18 months or would you have had to wait for everything for 18 months?

  31. Mr Andersen,

    We are actively attempting to find resolution in the CEA negotiations and have a firm view that the offer we have on the table both moves our people forward in terms of real wage growth and allows us to remain within touch of our competitors in Auckland come contracting rounds so that we can avoid redundancies. The unions have issued a notice of strike – work to rule and this has been running since last Thursday- the team are working hard to minimize impact on customers and keep services running . If unions step up the level of action we will work hard to continue to run our services and minimise impact. We have evolved into a far more constructive values based organization and our approach to problem solving is not restricted to tit for tat type actions that unfortunately prevails in the IR space.

    In terms of fleet we are actively lobbying for changes to be made to current standards to allow us to bring in double -deckers , have done the work on articulated hybrids and alternate energy fleet , one size does not fit all and we are ensuring that our planning includes an appropriate mix of small, medium and high capacity vehicles. We can deliver all of those things but they alone won’t deliver the outcomes required ,if the network is not redesigned, traffic management planning , infrastructure improvements , urban and spatial planning etc does not come on stream in parallel we will largely have a pretty good looking fleet, well trained drivers but unfortunately still an unreliable network :-).

    We would like to grow the size of the pie as you point out , all modes shares need to grow rail, ferry, bus, cycling, pedestrian , the entire industry needs to get over its patch protection thinking and deliver one network and true integration of modes. This is I guess one of the reasons that we are out of kilter with most because we actively support one system, one network and one approach. Strategic goals need alignment right through the value chain from funding,planning to service delivery – unfortunately the complexity will always sit in service delivery given current constraints in thinking but this is where the benefits can be truly realized if goals are aligned.

    Zane Fulljames

    1. Great to hear Zane! Thanks for taking the time to share your aims with everyone here. With the efforts of everyone involved in PT service delivery (from NZTA, AT, AC to the private sector players) Auckland does look like it really will be a very different and much better place in a few years. Transformational.

    2. Zane, I considered you annoying when you were trying to bust the busdriver’s union a couple of years ago and I consider you annoying now. For the record: a) I don’t know why you’re singling me out when I’m far from the biggest Snapper-hater around here; b) you’re the boss and no-one can fire you for what you say, so don’t go all the “anonymous coward” with those of us not in your position.

      1. Doloras,

        Of course I can be fired :-).

        The fact you find me annoying is interesting as I would (without being completely confident given you choose to hide behind a pseudonym) be fairly sure we have never met, you have never heard me speak at transport conferences , or public events and that you base most of your statements on media reports probably assuming that the media only report the truth , are factual, unbiased and will provide you the only context you need to be an armchair expert on all things.

        Quite happy to sit down for a coffee one day and exchange views , you might be surprised at what you find.

        I’ll even pay 🙂

        Warmest Regards
        Zane Fulljames
        CEO NZ BUS

  32. As someone who integrates technologies for a living (albeit in a totally different industry) the statement from Snapper that “The fault lies with Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and the French multinational Thales for not providing the critical components for successful integration.” rings very, very true for me.

    The core problem for Snapper was that THEY were required to make their system compatible with the Thales system … not the other way around. This gave an enormous incentive to Thales to make it difficult for Snapper at every turn. For non-technical people it’s very difficult to convey just how easy this kind of obstruction is, and how easy it is to cover it up in the absence of good faith on both sides.

    Essentially I have to agree with Zane… NZ Bus had every incentive to make it work, while Thales had every incentive NOT to make it work. Follow the money.

    1. “The core problem for Snapper was that THEY were required to make their system compatible with the Thales system…”

      Well, they _did_ lose the original tender. That was what they agreed to do when the politicians managed to wrangle them a place in the game after they lost. And then they proceeded to stall, and procrastinate, and delay, and so on and so forth.

      But unless you are directly involved in the process you just don’t know who messed up on the tech side. It could very well be Snapper – maybe their whole NZ business model relied on NZ Bus fares being processed by them. Maybe they lose a crucial piece of pie if Thales takes over. Maybe something changed their financial calculations in the last couple of years and now they can’t afford to pull back in Auckland. Maybe they tried their best or maybe they hemmed and hawed for all they were worth from the start.

      Maybe, maybe, maybe …. who cares? The decision has been made so let the courts sort out the rest of this mess.

    1. But Bob, Snapper did not win the tender. Why then do you think they should be able to dictate the specs and not the other way around? Do you think Thales should have changed their system to suit Snapper?

  33. Interesting comments about the smaller buses. In SE Qld this has been trialled and not considered successful. They are only used on a few routes on the Gold Coast which are considered too difficult for a normal sized bus. Isn’t the major cost with bus services the driver?

    1. Yes, but don’t forget that labour rates are much higher in Australia than here. In terms of bus operations it can be 50-100% higher. Thus the operating cost balance tilts us towards slightly smaller vehicles than Australia … all other factors remaining equal.

  34. Simon,

    Major cost driver is labour, however if you look at our Wellington Fleet as an example the “boffins” of the past decided that capacity therefore bigger is better would actually be more efficient in a constrained geography – if you are familiar with Wellington you will know that this was a flawed approach.

    Our approach is to deliver a fit for purpose fleet profile that can scale for demand, operate safely in the environment , be standard in configuration for our drivers and our customers, consistent in ride , comfort quality and environmentally sustainable. Takes time to put this model in place when you have 1100 buses of just about every make and model you could dream of :-). We also take a whole of life cost approach to our procurement decisions and do not buy the cheapest product on the market. The industry needs to lift its game,behave and think holistically, smarten up and deliver a very different model than it has historically.

    Zane Fulljames

    1. Hi Zane, interested in your thoughts on my comment about the width of entry/exit doors. Have you seen/heard any research on this? I would have thought that you could reduce dwell times considerably with nice wide doors, at the cost of a couple of seats of course.

  35. Stu,

    Agree that dwell times could be reduced with wider doors . I’ll get the team to share our research with you when we finalize. One of the constraints is the current “fascination” with a prescribed number of seats and the need to meet this contractually.

    We recently looked at triple doors on both sides of bus (6 points of entry) with all door boardings however this model (infrastructure needs aside) also drove 30% fare evasion , 30% spares ratios and 14% firebox recovery 🙂

    Zane Fulljames

    1. “Firebox” – didn’t realise the job was getting *quite* that heated!

      Seriously, your points about “six points of entry” need to be kept in mind every time we have a discussion on light rail through city centres (=tram-train). I have used the the bendybuses in London, and that system only works from a revenue protection point of view because on about every other bus, there was someone there checking that the passengers had paid. The heavy rail network isn’t affected by this because most of it is barriered.

      Also, thank you for being prepared to come and “muck in” in an online forum like this.

      1. You have to like auto correct on macs 🙂 spell check could have picked up “fair box ” as well I suppose… farebox will do though.

  36. Go Zane & Marija – Good input 🙂

    There seems to be alot of misunderstanding by some of the bloggers about the technology that is is used in software systems, as most software developers – develop computer systems that are proprietary (meaning they do not talk other systems) because the software developer likes to keep their development to themselves, so they have control of their product and related services to make their software system a nice ‘cosy’ incestuous package.

    The reality is this, this is old thinking and is also waste time and money. For a customer who has bought proprietary software is paying alot of money as in the case of AT with Thales.

    With the advent of mobile devices (like smartphones, etc) and electronic cards like Visa/Mastercard ‘Tap N Go’ credit, debit and prepaid cards, it means the power of mobile devices and ‘Tap N Go’ cards are dictating that systems should by talking to each other by allowing the transmission of information and payment data between systems without hindrance.

    There is no reason for Snapper not talking to Thales and Thales not talking to Snapper nor for me as commuter to use my smartphone or ‘Tap N Go’ Visa or Mastercard electronic card to jump on an NZ Bus in Auckland, Wellington or Whangarei or take a Tranz Metro train in Wellington or a ferry in Auckland just using my smartphone or Visa/Mastercard ‘Tap N Go’ card.

    Marija is correct by saying the NFC technology can be used for anything regardless if it is in a 2 Degrees/Telecom/Vodafone SIM card or in a Visa/Mastercard ‘Tap N Go’ card.

    Look at Air New Zealand’s Onesmart prepaid debit Mastercard that uses ‘Chip N Pay’ and ‘Tap N Go’ technology allowing me to make purchases, cash withdrawals, check in at the airport and board an aircraft using one card.

    In theory, I should be able to use my Onesmart card to jump on a NZ Bus or Tranz Metro Train or a ferry in Auckland using the same card.

    Why should I have use a Snapper card in Wellington and AT Hop card in Auckland when I can use on card.

    It doesn’t make sense.

    There seems to be anti Snapper campaign in the various blogs and I agree with Zane comments there is 2 sides to every story.

    I still have my Snapper card from when I use to live in Wellington and I still use it when visiting Wellington.

    Sure Snapper was a bit hairy when it was introduced but the system has been fine tuned and is use by nearly 75% of users on Go Wellington, Runcimans, Valley Flyer and Airporter bus services and Combined Taxis in Wellington. It also can be used to purchase train tickets and passes at the Tranz Metro ticket office for Wellington suburban and regional train services plus an increasing number of convenience stores and shops in Wellington.

    Snapper has adapted existing software to suit local conditions and the conditions in Wellington are not that similar to Auckland. Wellington like Auckland has bus, rail and ferry services plus a cable car. So there is no reason why Snapper can not work in Auckland in association with Thales.

    I agree with RedLogix comment and reading in between the lines, since Thales is a proprietary system, I think Thales does not want to integrated with Snapper (making it hard to do it) and is putting pressure on AT to get ‘rid’ off Snapper as Thales sees Snapper as a threat.

    The question is, if it is true that Thales is pressuring AT to push Snapper out of the game, is this ‘Anti Competitiveness’?

    If I am correct, it is the rate and tax payer is by done over plus local IT industry not Thales.

    By the way, I support the concept of open distribution, as New Zealand’s tourism suffers badly from proprietary software and David & Goliath syndrome just like the Auckland transport scene.

    If anybody interested in the concept of open distribution, have a look at –

    1. Hi Chris, everyone agrees that Snapper “works”, but Thales just works better (i.e. faster and less prone to card reading errors). Now, that’s just based on a) my experience of both systems and b) what I’ve read of the various technologies so I might be wrong.

      I’m not experienced enough to comment on the other issues you raise … but it does not matter – Thales got the contract, AT are being bolshy and booted Snapper out, the lawyers will now earn some money, and 5 years from now we’ll probably all have forgotten about all this.

      1. Zane is commended for commenting. I can’t say what involvement Zane (as CEO of a company that is a subsidiary of the same company) has with Snapper. Initially I was supportive of Snapper as a New Zealand owned business and thought it was a good solution. But after time I realised much of the work is being done by T-Money in Korea and after using in Snapper in Wellington I saw that it was not really up to international standards. When I heard Thales was bidding, I thought it may be better to have a neutral party involved. After Thales won the contract I thought it was the right decision. I increasingly lost patience with Snapper after they continued to battle AT at the peril of ratepayers and people like me who just wanted an integrated fare system. I also disagree that Snapper was rolled out in Auckland free of cost to ratepayers. Obviously the staff facilitating the change over to the public were employed by AT and marketing budget and brand name “HOP” was all out of AT’s budget.

  37. Hi Stu

    Thanks for the input.

    Regardless of possible short falls of Snapper and/or Thales software, we have to look outside the square and see what is happening in the big wide world.

    As I mentioned NFC technology and the consumer is starting to dictate this.

    If NZ Bus wants to use Snapper on its buses, then it should and shouldn’t be dictated to what it can or can not do.

    As mentioned, software systems should be able to talk to each other and deliver services and there is no reason why Snapper and Thales can not have integrated B2B communication.

    As from the consumer point of view, why should I have have to have a Snapper card for one system and Hop card for another system.

    I should have one card or smartphone SIM that allows me to buy a coffee, use a taxi, board an aircraft, travel on a Go Wellington bus or Auckland ferry regardless where I live in NZ.

    NRC technology is here and NZ being a small country should be in-bracing this technology instead of operating multiple proprietary systems, costing operators big money which is indirectly is passed on to the consumer being you and me.

    It is clear that Thales is pressuring AT not to have Snapper involved by making it difficult for B2B integration to happen. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what is happening. It is known fact in the IT industry, that if one partner does not really want to co-operate with another partner, the working relationship can go to a snails pace in which deadlines are not meet, which in essence is happening between Thales and Snapper and since AT is paying the bill, Thales is playing, ‘Im innocent’ and its all Snappers fault.

    Thales is trying to undermined Snapper creditability in the public area by portraying that Snapper is the culprit.

    I have a sneaky feeling that AT is being led up the garden path by Thales.

    The way technology is going, in 5 years time, we will be using our smartphones or ‘Tap N Go’ electronic payment cards for all electronic financial transactions, instead of using outdated Snapper and Hop cards and possibility Snapper and Thales will have integrated B2B communication.

    The Thales/Snapper/AT saga is happening in NZ tourism IT industry with a similar script in regards to B2B integration between reservation distribution systems and networks.

    By the way I don’t live in Wellington or Auckland and not a shareholder of Infatril.

    1. Certainly agree with you about looking into the wider world.

      Completely disagree with you, however, about whether NZ Bus should be able to decide what ticketing system to run. Remember that in this situation Auckland Transport is the customer; NZ Bus is the contractor – the former pays the latter approximately $100 million per year to provide PT services. That is why AT gets to dictate what payment system is used on these services and the structure of the network, timetables etc. Of course they do so in consultation with the operators, but this is out of respect for their knowledge of scheduling/fleet etc. Ultimately if AT is putting up the big bucks then AT gets to decide what the ticketing system is. You would expect the same if you were paying someone $100 million per year right?

      That’s how PT operates in most other countries in the world, and for good reason. NZ is somewhat unique in the degree of flexibility that we provide to our operators. That’s partly a response to the fact that we generally have what I would call a “fiscally efficient” system, insofar as a reasonably large proportion of bus routes in Auckland would actually operate at full cost recovery with no need for public subsidy. That’s a good thing. But it’s also a hangover from the bad old days of bus deregulation in the 1990s, when the old public bus companies were sold off into private ownership.

      1. Hi Stu

        You are missing the point.

        Isn’t NZ Bus the major operator for most of Auckland bus services?

        If, so, they (through their sister organization Snapper) have their business model that works for NZ Bus which means that NZ bus in Auckland would get more income without Thales clipping the ticket on all transactions that is goes through them.

        It comes back to why NZ Bus can not use their own system but still have B2B communication with Thales for passengers using AT Hop cards.

        NZ Bus is a business and more payment methods that are available to its customers more passengers use their services – hopefully 🙂

        NZ Bus is working on a similar business model to Combined Taxis in Wellington to allow multiple payment options for its customers. Combined Taxis accept Snapper, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Diners Club and Taxi Charge cards. This service is provided by Taxi Charge which is NZ Taxi Federation payment services to all NZ Taxi Federation members. Work is under way to integrate smartphone and electronic card ‘Tap N Go’ capability for all members especially for the new ‘Blue Bubble’ national taxi service that was rolled out earlier this year.

        Once the updated payment system is rolled out next year, a smartphone or electronic card user can use a Co-op taxi in Auckland, board an Air NZ flight to Queenstown, use a Queenstown taxi to my accommodation using one card or smartphone.

        By the way, Blue Bubble is made up of the major Taxi operators though out NZ and the payment system hasn’t cost a $100 million to build.

        It all comes down to what AT should have done, was to sit down look at what the big picture is in regards to electronic payment systems that are working or under development and work with Visa and Mastercard in NZ and said ‘Ok guys’ what is the best way to build an integrated electronic payment system that would work for Auckland but can accept new technology instead of the shambles AT has on its hands with system that is proprietary and may end up costing more that $100million as Thales struggles to integrated ever changing new technology over the next 5 to 10 years.

        Is the service AT and Thales are planning to provide is value for money to Auckland rate payers and NZ tax payers?. Time will tell.

        1. You will find that Thales are not “clipping the ticket”; they are simply getting paid to set up the system which then gets handed over to AT. That means AT owns both the data and the float. In terms of whether Thales/Snapper offers better value, I’m more interested in economic benefits rather than financial benefits. Sure Snapper is cheaper, but it’s also slower – and ultimately time costs money.

          So I’d put it to you that the wider economic benefits of Thales obviously outweighed the additional direct costs to rate-payers. And that’s why the contract was signed off by ARTA, NZTA, and MoT. I know this sounds harsh but you simply don’t know what was in those respective tenders (nor do I). Until we have more information this is all just a load of speculation and not really worth our time …

        2. Chris,

          NZ Bus is committed to Integrated ticketing as I have stated ad nauseum over the last few years. Our focus is on delivering reliable services that demonstrate value for money to taxpayers and deliver an appropriate roi. NZ Bus is not working on the business model you describe above nor has it ever have been our focus.

          Zane Fulljames
          CEO NZ BUS

        3. Hi Zane

          I totally agree with you that NZ Bus is committed to Integrated ticketing which is good for the consumer.

          I was in Wellywood a couple of weekends ago and I was suprised by the number of retail merchants offering Snapper around the city.

          I was also suprised to see that Tranz Metro ticket office at Wellington railway station was using Snapper for suburban and regional train travel. At least it is one step ahead of the other city north of the Bombay hills:)

          I am a bit suprised by your comment about the business model. I would have thought more payment options that a business has available to its consumers is good for business but may be I am wrong.

          Anyway it was good using Go Wellington and my companion was impress with the ease of of traveling on Welly’s PT system using a ‘Tap N Go’ card.

        4. Hi Stu

          Thales will be charging a transaction fee for every fare collected probably disgust as a system support/maintenance fee. This keeps the price down for the owner of the installed system.

          All global computer systems (like Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan, Visa, Mastercard, etc) that have B2B connections to other reservation, payment distribution systems charge a transaction fee for every ‘used’ transaction. Its standard policy because in some cases is due to the cost of the software concerned.

          I agree with you about the terms of the contract with Thales and AT. The question is, did AT purchase the software or leased the system software from Thales. I also understand that AT has ownership over the stored data, float, etc.

          With regards to your comment about the economical benefits, that will be seen over the coming years.

  38. Cant agree more Chris!! Thales is successful in portraying the role of “innocent”.With close to heart experience with this project, AT leadership and its lack of leadership is the root cause. Thales provided the technical know-how of their solution in Dubai NOL implementation, but not in NZ. An independent report to NZTA confirmed this and is one of the other reasons wny Snapper cannot integrate. Another reason is the moving goal post by NZTA and AT -no clear requirements. This project is an example of failed project – well evident by the staff turn over in that project. More than half of the people with this project left their job in last year – Program Director, Change Manager, Project Managers to name a few!

    1. Except your missing the point. I & most of the transport blog people here I suspect are not particularly interested in the technological side of things. We just want some technology that works! What we want is a proper fare structure that doesn’t penalise transfers or has different fares for different modes and, at the same time, helps stop fare evasion.

      1. Louis, if this was going live even 5 years ago it might’ve been OK to choose any old technology that worked. But today, with convergence of mobile Smartphones, contactless banking and Public Transport, it is critical to get the technology mix right or else be horribly out of date right from Day 1. This is actually the responsibility of NZTA.

        It is interesting that Payments NZ are currently undertaking a research project into whether further standards are required for mobile payments and they have consulted widely. But I would argue that Public Transport standards are in far more serious need of cross-industry co-ordination.

        1. Surely it’s about the chip rather than the card? Once the chip is developed it can be planted into anything you like: watches, keys, whatever? And in any case if it is about technology it seems proven that Thales is definitely the better system. AT have made the right call.

    2. Hi Geoff

      I agree with your comment, Its obvious what is happening behind the scenes in the with AT and Thales.

      Since I do not live in Auckland, I think the poor Auckland rate payer is being treat like a mushroom 🙂

  39. How to use your HOP cards. Current HOP/ Snapper for NZ Bus until phased out next year on bus when you will use AT/ HOP. From 28 October use AT/HOP on trains and from 30 November use AT/HOP on ferries.

    1. So I have a Snapper/HOP at the moment but would quite like to get an AT/HOP soon so that I can use it on the trains. Will I be able to have both at the same time without paying $10 for the AT/HOP?

  40. I agree with Mr Anderson – do I have to buy an AT HOP instead of 10 trip tickets? I already have a Snapper but I don’t use it. BTW a 5 stage 10 trip is $60 – under AT HOP this goes up to $61.80 – is that fair or equitable?

  41. Sorry if this has been raised earlier, I have read all the comments its just theres so many I cant remember reading about this….when is on-line top up going to become available? Will it be straight away with the AT/HOP or will we have to wait until the buses are phased in as well. Im assuming this top up option will never be available to snapper hop? (which would be a bit of a pain as I catch the 249 everyday…wish I lived closer to a train station)

    1. From Auckland Transport

      By registering the AT HOP card customers avoid losing money on their card if they lose it. They can call the AT HOP contact centre, cancel the lost card and transfer their funds on to a replacement AT HOP card.

      Manage their AT HOP card and accounts online. They can watch their employees’ or their children’s travel activity

      Have multiple convenient locations to top-up including online. AT HOP cards can also be topped up at retailers, service centres, ticket and top-up machines.

      Can set up an auto-reload option to manage their travel budget. That means you can set your card to top up the balance when it gets down to a certain level. They can set it and forget it.

      I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to do all this as soon as the card is launched in October.

      Yay for automatic top-ups :-).

  42. Blimey, this seems to be ‘the’ most contributed-to thread on ATB this year. I am feeling like the proverbial torchlight-dazzled flounder with all this activity!

    All said and done, things need to move on now and arguments over who is to blame for the various delays put aside. Better that copious amounts of notes be made on ‘what not to do’, to ensure the troubles associated with this ticketing project, do not happen again. Studiously documenting a bad project is as good as that done for a successful project.

    A city cannot be truly considered ‘liveable’ by international standards until there is not only a good PT system in place but a flexible and user-oriented PT journey payment structure to go with it. It is in fact the ways in which one is able to pay for one’s PT journey that are critical to increased patronage and on this subject I would like to raise a flaw in the forthcoming new rail ticketing system, which I predict that despite what either the transport planners or the readers of this blog think, will become a barrier to network usage uptake. It is the decision not to have the ticket machine-issued single journey tickets enabled to use the Thales gates.

    I think the intent to move people onto using a stored value card as the ultimate sole means of rail journey payment in Auckland, by deliberately making the single journey tickets plain paper and have them processed by staff at a manual gate, sets the new system up for an unanticipated fail. There are many people living in Auckland who, despite upcoming improvements to the way bus routes dove-tail in with trains and ferries, will continue to use predominantly rail to get to where they want to go, predominantly use bus or use only the ferry. For rail and even for ferry, from now on, as we know, there are going to be automated ticket processing gates at certain points and we all need to be mindful of the fact that those gates will not always be used as transport mode link points – they will be used almost as much for mono-modal single journey travel.

    Give rail users two methods of rail journey payment in Auckland – an RF single journey ticket and a HOP card, as both methods will allow passage through the automated ticket gates and this simple act will embed in the minds of the wider public, that there has been real improvement to the rail network, beyond the ‘cosmetic’ changes (upgraded stations, ticket machines / gates, rolling stock, electrification) made so far. Two methods of journey payment with a common technology linkage will more accurately determine going forward, whether users will ultimately prefer HOP as the sole means of rail journey payment, even for comparatively occasional use.

    Personally, having seen over the years first-hand as a regular commuter, how many of the world’s most successful commuter rail networks have built up and maintain their patronage, those networks do it by offering both stored value card and RF or mag stripe single journey ticketing payment methods. Auckland needs to follow this dual journey management and payment method, in order to increase rail patronage over the next 5-10 years and clearly determine journey preferences / habits. As Jim Morrison said ‘people are strange’, so best not to second guess Auckland rail users at this stage – give them an ‘equal choice’ in ticketing now rather than later, in order to fully understand their rail network usage habits and preferences going forward. Manufacturing RF tickets for use in the Auckland ticket machines should cost no more than what the ticket machine’s thermal paper costs.

    1. Single trip tickets will be at the cash price while you will get discounts on the AT HOP card. Over time it’s likely the price gap between cash fares and the HOP card will increase so I see this as less and less of a problem.

      1. Its not the price thats the problem, its the deliberate lack of functionality in the thermal paper tickets that I believe is a mistake. Auckland Transport’s stored value card offering will not be attrative until an integrated fare system is in place and that seems to be at least 12 months away. It would be better for single journey tickets to be RF tickets from service launch this year as people are going to find thermal paper tickets a turn-off when they discover they cant be used on the automated ticket gates at Newmarket / Britomart and they will not take up the AT stored value card until its more price/functionality attractive – as has been the case in Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul.

  43. I find it interesting that people working for a small company sit and belittle Thales and its solution. Hmm lets remind ourself that Thales is a world leader in communication-based train/transport control and integrated supervision and communications systems. Thales has been chosen by many of the worlds best and most prestigious public transport systems to role out ticketing systems.
    The company behind snapper? Where are their successfull role outs? Whats their prestige customers won in a tender where they dont have political favours to be called in?
    How many successfull projects in cities do they have as reference?

    Would any company even consider a unknown entity with no decent reference customers when they wanted to build one of the most important pieces of infrastructure the company will order during the coming two/three decades?
    Because thats what were talking about here.
    Consider your own business, your own sector and think how common such practice is. The world leader against a local start up without reference projects. Lol.

    Nah an independant NZ Bus would have screamed and fought tooth and nail to avoid Snapper since the product is inferior. Instead we have ownership collusions and Auckland suffers as a consequence.

    Im also fairly certain that Thales can solve a few issues if needed. Lets remember that the old simcard actually is a French technology (although invented in Germany) The predessescor was based on a Swedish invention and the Swedish invention was sold by tetra paks owners because they wanted to focus on tetra pak. Pointless facts but there you go.
    I think its safe to assume there are some skills in how to sort a few things out when it comes to simcards and their heirs over in France. Thales also have more that its fair share of resources to put behind a project if needed.
    So while some might cry that a politically well connected kiwi company lost a contract they never should have been close to being awarded others are very relieved.

    NZ Bus + Hmm they bought Alexander Dennis buses. The same bus that cant find any sales outside the UK because the product is so crap half the worlds countries dont even want to accept their bids. But congratulations to NZ bus they join the illustroius group of countries buying UK vehicles together with UK. US and Ireland…(No, thebuses in China were a government thing)
    Hmm whats next buying manukau honey from Fukushima…

    1. Yes, agree that Thales are big enough / been around long enough now to be able to provide a solid foundation on which to develop a good transit-based added-value micro payment system for Auckland (at least) similar to the JR SUICA / ICOCA networks.

      For the record, Manuka bushes do not grow in Fukushima – the climate is not suitable…and that was even before the 2011 fiasco at Fukushima Daiichi.

      1. Sean,

        Not sure where you get your information from but the last time I looked our “crappy” ADL as you put it were running at six sigma levels in terms of reliability, had lowest level of emissions in the country and demonstrating great efficiency levels. Customer feedback on comfort levels, quality of ride have been overwhelmingly positive and we have just delivered number 150 into the auckland market. I guess with 16000 of these in the market globally prior to our decision to purchase made it easier to make a decision along with the 100 + new jobs the deal delivered in NZ.

        We spoke to every possible combination of provider in our intensive RFP process over 9 mths prior to signing the deal and on a whole of life basis are comfortable with the $90m we have invested thus far and will continue with our fleet replacement program as it stands despite your reservations.

        Also last time I checked ADL had done deals in Canada and the US and entered market’s in Oceania other than NZ.

        We are delighted with our relationship with ADL and the quality of the fleet/service they are providing, so too must be the other operators in NZ that subsequently ordered ADL post our lead.

        Warm Regards
        Zane Fulljames
        CEO NZ BUS

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