Its been a long time, sometimes it felt like an eternity but HOP is finally here for train which is great. I have been using the card for a couple of weeks and found the system painless an extremely easy to use and now thousands of others can get these benefits too. To date Auckland Transport tells me that to date, around 11,000 people have brought AT HOP cards which is a pretty good effort considering they have only been on sale for 5 days. Here is a little video that AT have put together showing how to tag on and off:

The other thing that has gone live is the AT HOP website which allows you to register your card, which is useful if it gets stolen or lost, and also to top up the card. Here is what it looks like once you have registered.


To be able to top up online you need to first add your payment details by going to the My AT HOP Details section and selecting the Payment Details but everything seemed pretty straight forward. A couple of the other features like reporting a lost card seem to be unavailable at the moment so hopefully they will go live soon. Also I couldn’t see anywhere to get my transaction history.

I happen to be going to town today so I’ll get to give the fate gates a go. For those of you who weren’t part of the pilot, have fun using it.

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  1. Great that you can top-up online, being forced to queue for sometimes 30 minutes at Britomart for the pleasure of being charge 25c to top-up the Snapper HOP was a joke IMO. I assume the online top up is free? They do have my money so I don’t see why I should be penalised for putting it on the card.

  2. Anyone know if the site isn’t quite fully operational? I’m trying to register my HOP card that I bought during the week but the registration form is insisting that I have not entered a valid HOP card. Anyone else had this problem?

    1. A couple of questions. I see from the website you set the value at which the top up occurs and gives the example of $5. I couldn’t find:

      1. What is the minimum top up amount.
      2. Is there a cost to topping up.

      As a infrequent user of trains, I wonder if I could set up auto top up of $5 when it gets below $5?

  3. I’m afraid the web system is broken in too many ways to itemize. I’m in the software business, and I can tell you right now that the PM and Test team need to be fired. The site isn’t just not operational, it’s completely dysfunctional and would not pass basic UAT testing in even the most half-arsed software dev organization. Among the most serious problems?
    – No security to prevent you from adding someone else’s debit card to your ATHop account
    – Error messages which in no way signal a path forward or cause of error
    – The ability to add a debit card but no way to use it since the system currently only accepts credit cards for top ups
    – Volumes of Link Account branding for a function which is not yet released
    – Top up starts Oct 27, card use starts Oct 28, the system lets you know that it takes 72 hours to credit your card after top up

    To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. The entire thing is a software designer’s nightmare. I recommend we all telecommute next week.

  4. Was great to use my AT Hop card and to go through the functioning barrier gates at britomart this morning and then again at newmarket. There certainly are a lot of staff about but good on them. I still have half a month left on my paper monthly pass but put ten dollars on my hop card to try out the gates on the first day of operation.

    I was kinda hoping they would transfer my remaining monthly pass balance on to my AT Hop card but they wont do this so back to paper based system till it expires.

  5. Would have liked to have seen a more functional website but all considered it’s already a vast improvement on the alternative systems available (Snapper or paper). Am hoping that the final website functions are sorted out in the next few days, it’s not a great first impression!

    Took a trip Britomart-Otahuhu return today and all worked well, gates were really quick, no issues with staff on-board (who reminded me that tagging off is required), and managed a quick turn-around at Otahu (tag off, wait 20s, tag on) to get back into the City. Easy really!

  6. Just went to have a look at Britomart. Lots of staff on duty today. Gates were sitting open for some reason.

    I thought Britomart was going to be fully gated. I was very surprised to see this was not the case. There is at least one entry point with just a “please tag on or off” post and no gate. I don’t want to say to much in public (or post the photo I took) as I’m picking some significant revenue leakage through this entry point.

    1. Not that surprising Scott I guess for the phase until 31 Dec they’ll still need to offer something for those using up their paper tickets…

      The 72hr topup time is a bit of a fail, will need to go a bit early on Monday to top up as I don’t want to risk having no balance. Exited that I don’t have to queue up anymore for a monthly pass…

        1. If you’re talking about the lifts at the eastern end, I don’t think it’s possible for large numbers of able-bodied people to use the lifts without attracting a lot of attention. From memory all of the lifts are visible from the manned gate.

      1. 72 hours is the antiquated NZ banking system. The Banks shut off at 10pm. Its not a HOP problem. Campaign the banks to move into the 21st century and stop this 2 and 3 day payment stuff. Still waiting for Bank A to transfer funds to Bank B

        1. Inter bank is different to credit card transactions I beleive. AirNZ’s one smart card has the same issue.

          Agree it needs to be quicker.

        2. It has nothing to do with the banks, it is to do with Auckland Transport and the way that they have elected to run the system. Other online sites use the same payment processor (I believe it is BNZ) and credit your account immediately

        3. It takes about 3 seconds to get a credit card transaction approved so god only knows why the three day delay?

  7. To those asking about top-up fees, there’s a 25c fee for one-off’s anywhere and free for monthly pases & auto top-ups.

  8. So is online top up only by credit card/debit visa etc or can it be added as a bill payment in online banking to transfer funds from the cheque account to the HOP account?

    1. Hi Simon, you can either set up automated direct debit from your bank account, or from a nominated credit card. Can’t see any functionality for setting up a transfer to the card by the holder, funds have to be called from the AT end.

  9. I’d say today was an unmitigated disaster – me and my wife travel from Sunnyvale to Britomart on the train daily – having ordered cards on line and not yet received them – we had our four stage tickets ready to be stamped – no conductors to stamp ticket. I got off at Grafton and the station was awash with travelers, as usual, and I heard one – yes one! – person tagging off. I assume that everybody else – like me traveled for free? My wife reported similar problems at Britomart and she refused to stand in an inordinately long queue to get her ticket stamped and walked off the station.

    Why did they not maintain conductors on the trains to clip tickets for a couple of weeks? Transitions always expose poor thinking in my world!

  10. Not sure, that does sound bad, I know I got checked with my AT HOP card on the Sunday morning, just a check to see I had the card as obviously they don’t have the electronic readers yet.

    However there were also conductors at Britomart and you couldn’t get away without being checked unless you know the special exit which is monitored by cctv I think. But this wasn’t Peak time obviously so would of expected they’d have more staff on the gates, and even had some of the gates open with people checking tickets until people migrate onto the smart card…

    AT would have surely priced in a couple of weeks to a month of increased fare invasion though, you don’t expect it to happen smoothly from day one!

  11. I haven’t seen this mentioned here or addressed by AT but I have been able to carry a negative balance on my card. The first time I used it during the pilot period, it let me run a 5 stage negative balance ($6) once, but wouldn’t let me tag on again until I topped up. Today, I only had ~$4-something on it and when I tagged off it showed me I had about -$2.50, so at least during the pilot there was the potential for a bit of flexibility for, say, when the lines at the top up machines are very long.

    1. I think it is designed that way. You can go part of a fare over to enable you to get to where you are going.

      On the basis the card costs $10, this isnt gonig to be abused.

  12. Pretty seamless experience today (many thanks to ATB for the card) – I ran for the train, tagged on, got on, tagged off (even if I didn’t see the illuminated arrow properly at the Britomart gates and ran into the wrong set of closed semicircle doors – oof!).

    Feels like a more grownup system somehow, though I feel for the poor clippies who wander up and down the carriages at a loose end.

    I bet a lot of fare evasion is coming out of the woodwork now – I saw at least 2-3 people at Britomart held back on the platform with security guards keeping an eye on them.

  13. I am not a happy bunny.

    Last Friday I did my normal Britomat-Ranui journey home, tagged off, got an error beep so got back in the queue and tagged off again (or so I thought) 13 sec later.
    Next Monday I noticed a strange value on my card, and after a long ph call to the help desk I found that the 2nd “tag off” had actually been registered as a tag on, (the 1st tag off worked!), and I’d been hit with a penalty fare for not tagging off from the 2nd trip!!

    Lurking in the FAQ’s it says there is a 2 min lock out period to specifically prevent this sort of thing happening.

    I now have to wait 2 weeks for this to be investigated before a decision will be made as to whether I will be refunded. I am completely underwhelmed.

  14. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, there was a mighty space station. This space station though, had a fatal flaw.. a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. If you lobbed a photon torpedo in there, it’s curtains for the most mighty weapon in the galaxy.

    Now you’re probably asking yourself why I am sharing this on the Auckland Transport blog… and the reason is that the magic train ticket & gate system, just like the space station also has a fatal flaw. A big red button in the Newmarket station, right beside the manual pay gate. It appears that pushing this button will cause several simultaneous results:

    1) All the gates will retract, and the displays will change to “Emergency”

    2) No ATHop cards will be scanned (either entering or leaving the station). Yep, that means you win a penalty fare!

    3) Lots of people in red jumpers will walk quickly in small circles saying “Don’t panic, Don’t panic”

    Notably, this fun state of affairs will persist until (in the words of a panicked red jersey) “Someone comes out on the next train from Britomart”.

    I unhappily experienced all this last night, apparently all caused by a nefarious bandit who walked up, hit the button, and then did a runner.

    I wonder how many times this is going to happen before Auckland Transport decide to do something about it, because from a passenger point of view, it’s incredibly annoying….

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