In just over a month those over 65 will no longer be able to just wave their SuperGold card to get free public transport. Instead, following changes made by the government, they will be required to have an AT HOP card with a concession loaded. There are currently about 180,000 people in Auckland with a SuperGold card and that is growing by about 7,000 a year and AT say almost 42,000 already have a HOP card with the SuperGold concession loaded. That also means that potentially around 140,000 people won’t be able to travel unless they make the change over the next month.

Auckland Transport have launched a campaign to get those with SuperGold cards on to HOP including introducing a new SuperGold specific HOP card – although those with blue HOP cards can keep using those.


Switching SuperGold public transport use to the AT HOP card will also reduce improper use of the SuperGold concession and permit improved planning of public transport services making the scheme more sustainable, reducing taxpayer and ratepayer costs.

Mr Lambert says seniors using public transport in Auckland who do not yet have an AT HOP card will need to purchase one by 30 June, at a cost of $15 (the AT HOP card costs $10 and it must have a minimum of $5 credit loaded onto it at the time of purchase) The $10 card purchase price is non-refundable.

“We’re working with the Ministry of Transport and directly with seniors’ advocacy groups to make the process as easy as possible for seniors,” he says.

Auckland Transport is making an information pack available to all SuperGold cardholders, advising seniors of the changes and explaining how to purchase an AT HOP card and load a SuperGold concession.

“We have worked directly with seniors in focus groups to ensure the information provided is clear and easy to understand,” Mr Lambert says.

SuperGold card users purchasing an AT HOP card from 9 May will be issued with a specially designed, distinctive gold AT HOP card. However, blue AT HOP cards loaded with a SuperGold concession will continue to be accepted after 1 July 2016. Auckland Transport will be in contact with individuals who have a blue AT HOP card loaded with a SuperGold concession regarding the process to swap out their blue AT HOP card for a gold AT HOP card free of charge after 1 July 2016.

Having a specific SuperGold card is a good idea but oddly though it’s not a replacement for the SuperGold card so those eligible will have to carry both cards. Similarly, the Ministry of Social Development appear to have refused to help AT in the change over. I understand this isn’t the first time the MSD has done this and it appears to me that they want to operate in a silo over the whole thing.

At the same time Grey Power is calling the requirement to buy a HOP card cruel. While I understand why they’re saying it, I personally thing that’s a bit rough given that Auckland Council/Transport go beyond the SuperGold benefits and also cover evening peak travel too. Paying $15 for essentially unlimited free travel is still a very good deal.

I would expect most people who read this blog are likely to already have a HOP card with the concession loaded but

With the discussion on SuperGold I thought I’d also take a quick look at some of the figures around SuperGold which can be found on this NZTA site. It has annual data up to the end of June last year

In total there were 12.6 million trips via SuperGold across NZ in the 2014/15 year and that was worth just over $26 million in fares.

SuperGold trips in Auckland accounted for about 56% of that national total although only 54% of value of fares. For 2015 the breakdown of trips by mode and the percentage of total trips by that mode were:

  • Bus – 5.9m (9.9%)
  • Train – 680k (4.9%)
  • Ferry – 445k (8.0%)
  • Total – 7.1m (8.9%)

Auckland SuperGold patronage

The costs are quite different though due to the high cost of ferries. In the brackets is the cost per trip

  • Bus – $9.8m ($1.66)
  • Train – $1.5m ($2.27)
  • Ferry – $2.8m ($6.24)
  • Total – $14.1m ($2.01)

Auckland SuperGold costs

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  1. Minimum of $5 on the HOP card when super card says rides are free = compulsory interest free money to Auckland Transport, aka extortion.

    1. What complete rubbish; AT will really rake it in on that $5! And anyway, not all trips are free for goldcard holders, so to have enough on there to pay for a possible pre 9 a.m. trip is useful.
      “Extortion”? Have you taken lessons in hyperbole or does it come naturally?
      Greypower calling this move ‘cruel’ is just OTT. I’ve had the goldcard loaded onto my Hop card for ages now. Considering the amount of money I’m saving it is a small impost and one I’m more than happy to pay. I have no income other than my superannuation so I’m not one who considers $15 as “trivial”.
      It will also help to speed up dwell times and for this reason alone should proceed. Oh yeah- and much fewer tickets tossed negligently in the bus; or down the space between the back of the seat and the actual seat; or stuffed into any and every available gap!

      1. Wow, are you for real? $15 for unlimited travel is an absolute bargain, real extortion there considering this system literally costs millions per year to subsidize (and yes, I’m for it). This is more generous than here in VIC, where Seniors get half price travel but not free (varies by state however). In NSW, they have to pay $2.50 for unlimited daily (still a bargain).

        As for the $5, at least it’s there for contingency in case they do need to a peak time trip

    2. Nothing compulsory about it, if they don’t want a card then they don’t need one. Hardly “extortion”.

      Interest rates are about 3% these thats or 15 cents per year on $5. I’m sure AT are looking forward to building a couple of inches of the CRL with their extra $15,000 or so per year.

    3. For the mathematically challenged around here $5 per card x 180,000 = $900,000 free money for Auckland Tramsport and growing.

      1. Auckland Transport voluntarily pays for all supergold travel between 3pm and 6.30pm, that is not part of the national scheme and not funded by the supergold funding.

        Anytime you get a ‘free’ trip after 3.00pm weekdays the fare paying commuters of Auckland are buying your ticket for you full price.

        Anyway, amount of taxpayer money going on retirees “free” day trips to Devonport and Waiheke is scandalous, it’s almost $2.5m a year according to Ministry of Transport figures. That is just the two ferries, let along every other route.

        So stop moaning for more of a handout, $15 is the least you should pay!

        1. I expect the one off senior’s day out trips to Waiheke will reduce for those that go on these and do not use goldcard for any other PT. Even then $15.00 for a day out to Waiheke will be cheap but the card will have to be arranged and paid for in advance so this will be a disincentive.

        2. According to the Q&A about the SuperGold changes on the MoT website, the pm concession is funded by AT with co-funding from the government.

          So it’s taxpayers as well as farepayers that are footing the bill for this, and I’m pretty sure that operator reimbursement is less than the full fare.

        3. The marginal cost of accepting seniors for free is zero, assuming no extra services are laid on to cope. There is lost revenue of course, but you’d have to factor in that seniors might not use PT at if they had to pay for it, instead they might opt for the car. So the operator reimbursement had better be substantially less than full fare or the tax/rate payer is getting ripped off.

        4. Agreed with that – and it can’t be the full fare on most services anyway, because in the absence of any information on the length of trip taken (as now) no-one knows what the full fare is. This will of course soon be different in Auckland with the AT Hop changes.

        5. Sounding like a nasty neo-liberal there Nick. Surely you haven’t now become one of the extreme rightwingers now too?

        6. Not neolib at all, please by all means let all of us have 100% fully government funded unlimited free public transport at all times. Here, take me $15 already!

  2. This whole process leaves me speechless. There has been absolutely no attempt by AT to explain the advantages to seniors – that it’s much faster to board with a HOP, which benefits them and the transport system as a whole – and that they will be able do do what everyone else does with a HOP – not be singled out. A good news story that will get them a backlash because of poor comms too late.

    Why on earth do seniors have to get a special card, FGS? What’s wrong with a blue card with the concession loaded – like other blue cards with concessions loaded? Don’t get this at all. Mine is brand new. I thought I could keep using it as their material has stated – now I learn I shave to swap it after July 1. Duh.

    I understand that AT and probably other organisations tried and failed to get the SuperGold card to be a smart transport card, applicable across multiple city systems. Govt refused. Now if seniors are in another city, they’ll miss out on the concession.

    I always keep a bit of money on my card for the odd times when I travel earlier than 9am. I can’t understand the fuss about that $5.

    1. You don’t have to change your blue HOP card.

      NZTA want HOP (or at least the technology/backend behind it) to be the national system.

      Agree AT should also talk about the benefits of faster boarder etc.

      1. [above]” SuperGold card users purchasing an AT HOP card from 9 May will be issued with a specially designed, distinctive gold AT HOP card. However, blue AT HOP cards loaded with a SuperGold concession will continue to be accepted after 1 July 2016. Auckland Transport will be in contact with individuals who have a blue AT HOP card loaded with a SuperGold concession regarding the process to swap out their blue AT HOP card for a gold AT HOP card free of charge after 1 July 2016″.

        1. They haven’t said it will be compulsory to swap it, just that you’ll have the opportunity to swap it for free

        2. Will you still be able to load a concession onto a new blue card after the changeover? For example, if you already have a HOP card at the time you turn 65, and want to keep it.

        3. I’ve just received a letter from AT saying “AT is taking a phased approach to replace the blue AT Hop cards loaded with a SuperGold public transport concession with gold AT Hop cards over a 12 month period from 1 July 2016.”

          That says to me(but not that clearly) that we SuperGolders will have to change our cards by 30 June 2017, ie it is compulsory.

          And sending me a letter when they’ve already sent me an email is not a very good use of AT resources, I would have thought.

    2. +1 why should everyone else be delayed unnecessarily for non-hop users? Making it compulsory will speed it up for everyone (including seniors).

      1. I anticipate that people will be delayed by hop card seniors on the ferries as there is typically only one reader per ramp (exception is Pier 1 with turnstiles) and the reader design is awkward at best. This will result in queues and congestion for those disembarking.

        1. So install more HOP readers… Not rocket science. At the point where they probably need more HOP readers anyway since most people have HOP now.

        2. Probably is rocket science for AT.
          Hop usage on fullers ferries is not all that high at present as it is based on a single fare and fullers concessions are cheaper.

        3. So one minute HOP cards will cause huge queues, next minute no one uses HOP cards anyway?

        4. Hop usage for non 65s is low on ferries however there is a notable number of supergold users on afternoon / commuter sailings. Queuing for the only hop reader will cause congestion.

  3. My parents will never travel before 9 a.m. Is there a way they can get the $10 refunded ($5 each) or somewhere else they can spend it? Maybe the northern toll rd or a car park?

    1. The top up isn’t a requirement, it’s just a “policy”. I’ve brought cards with $0 balance before, don’t know why they can’t do this as a one-off for seniors and wave the cost (or make it $5) as they are essentially forcing them to get one. You can tag on with $0 just not -$0.01 or less.

      1. As has been said above $5.00 is very, very cheap for unlimited off peak travel. How much does $5.00 buy? A muffin or a cheap latte or free travel. Get this in perspective!

        1. Its $15, making it $5 or free is what I suggested above… $15 is a lot of money to spend on something you pretty much already had.

        2. Sorry correction $15.00 for a one off charge. The rest of my comment still applies. Maybe it should have never been totally free in the first place.

  4. AT seems to have worked hard on making it as bureaucratic as possible to get the new Gold Hop card. We took my partner’s 77yr old brother to New Lynn station to get the card. You stand in one queue and are then told you have to go to the ticket office to buy the card. For that you have to have photo ID – your existing Gold Card is not good enough (nor is looking 77). Then you go back to the original queue and the two new people who AT have employed to sort this take you new card, require your name and address and your photo ID again. They then tell you there will be a 30 minute wait to get it processed. We tell them that we are not leaving his drivers licence with them for 30 minutes and that they can write down the number if they have to. We then go and have lunch, come back, get in the queue again and finally collect his card. We then take him to Henderson on the bus to demonstrate how to tag on and off and return on the train to demonstrate that process. We get home and find the AT email saying we will have to change ours, but please don’t do it until after July 1.

    1. I purchased a Hop card at Newmarket a while back for $5, no loading required, and had my Gold card linked on the spot (just a few minutes at the counter). I don’t recall having to show ID, but probably used my drivers’ licence; easy. The staff could not have been more helpful, so maybe Newmarket is the place to go! A couple of days ago a friend did the same thing except was issued with the new gold version (not sure what she paid). Again, quick and easy.

      I rarely use it except to go to Waiheke, but after a nice lunch and purchasing a few bottles of wine and/or olive oil there’s not much change out of a couple of hundred so haven’t really noticed any cost-saving. 🙂

      1. I bought my card at the Onehunga agent and put the SuperGold concession on it at Britomart. Both transactions were quick and easy, with the AT staff at Britomart being particularly friendly and helpful.

  5. I’ve no problem with what’s happening, but AT’s email to existing AT Hop SuperGold concession holders is a confusing mess, raising more questions than it answers (as the comments above show). Every decent communication should address the five whys – who, what, where, when, why – and the communication is a dismal failure on all of those except fir who. Pathetic fail, AT.

  6. “I would expect most people who read this blog are likely to already have a HOP card with the concession loaded ”
    hoping that this doesn’t mean that you believe that all your readers are eligible for the concession? 😎

    yours, way too young

  7. My concern is that the $5 cash will disappear if the card is not used for a period of time or if it is not dipped into. Is there any guarantee that this will not happen? My parents have blue cards with the concession loaded and considering the hassle they were to get, as described above I will not be suggesting they change.

    1. Even if the $5.00 lasted a year this is still very cheap travel. I am certain many would be overjoyed if their PT travel was this cheap.

  8. Proportionately lower patronage of trains by super gold card holders, I see, but I guess that reflects the lack of interest in train travel in Auckland over the last 20-30 years, until recently, of course.

  9. I heard some conversation on this on RNZ the other day and read some other comments. Some interesting points – but one that stuck with me was from a lady who said she tends to be a tad forgetful sometimes – she was told that if she forgot to tag off 3 times she would have the card deactivated and she was concerned about that. I could see that being an issue – I find it hard enough to tag-off. Other comments touched on the fact they would not do a mass mailout citing privacy concerns.

  10. My mum (pensioner) is flying to Auckland and wants to use her Gold card for travel on Auckland’s wonderful public transport system. There is virtually no public transport in the provinces where she comes from, so she’s not getting much PT use from her gold card. Sounds like she won’t be able to just wave her existing card, she will have to get a new Hop card.
    What’s the best thing for her to do?
    Is there an outlet at Auckland Airport where you can get a gold Hop?
    Can you write in to somewhere beforehand and get one posted out?
    Lindsey Rea says she had to go to New Lynn for one, and the process sounds horrendous for an elderly person.
    Does it work on the Skybus/Airbus ?
    Do they sell them at Britomart, where the Skybus takes her from the airport?
    What’s the story?
    Why isn’t AT all over this like a rash, sorting it out to avoid a cock-up?

    1. I suggest a careful read of:
      If she wants to use the concession from the airport, stuff will have to be done in advance. It isn’t usable on the Skybus, but is ok on other bus services and the train (so 380 Airporter to Papatoetoe and train to Britomart or elsewhere is ok).
      If she is used to the Skybus, the least stress option might be taking it to Britomart, and setting aside an hour to get the concession loaded on a gold AT HOP card that she buys there.

      I phoned my Mum (in Dargaville) today to see if she had seen any communication about the changes (we helped her set up the concession on a HOP card a couple of years ago for use on her occasional visits – I think a coffee in Newmarket was involved). She had seen the Herald article, and thought those complaining about a one-off cost of $15 were ridiculous.

      1. She will be fine until 1 July 2017. I imagine she will find herself somewhere convenient to make the change at some point before then, rushing would probably be counter-productive:
        “If you’ve already got a SuperGold concession loaded – great !

        You don’t need to do anything; continue using your blue AT HOP card as you do now. You’ll have the chance to swap out your blue AT HOP card to a gold AT HOP card in the next 12 months. We’ll be in touch with you closer to the time.”

  11. Why do all over 65s get free travel I don’t mind free travel for those who really struggle but to say all 65s can’t afford to pay fares is a bit rich considering many of this demographic have huge wealth in property due to the housing crisis

    1. They get free travel because they vote in vast numbers and no one can get elected except by throwing them lollies.

      Younger, poorer and esp Maori people have dreadful voter participation rates and are therefore crapped on by the state.

      1. Agree completely. That’s why National refuses to build adequate state houses. Poorly housed people don’t tend to vote and if they do it’s unlikely to be for National.

      2. Perhaps it is because they have contributed large sums to the to the nation over their working lives via taxes etc… Perhaps the younger generation want free transport without having made any financial contribution to NZ Inc yet?

        1. Hence the pension. This is just an add-on that disproportionately benefits over-65’s that live in urban areas that are large enough to have public transport.

        2. ….and the pension has been chewed away at so now it is only 66% of the average wage. Comments here just sound like snarky people wanting everything yet have not contributed to society for 40+ years in taxes and rates. All abourt me, me, me… you surely don’t have a caring outlook on society. Only green I am seeing is green with envy.

        3. No envy from me, I’m happy to pay my way on PT and pay tax towards the pensions of previous generations. My issue with free PT on the gold card is it is of no benefit to over-65s in towns like Te Kuiti, Alexandra or Waipukarau for example, in my opinion the money should instead be added to the pension so everyone can choose how they use it.

          I realise this isn’t pension blog or finance blog, but when the pension was 80 % of the median wage there were 12 workers for every pensioner, and even then it contributed to a government financial crisis. Now it is 5 workers for every pensioner, by the time I retire it will be 2 workers for every pensioner. It doesn’t really matter who worked harder or paid what tax in each generation, it’s a financial reality, so not sure how it’s all “me, me, me”.

        4. NZTA’s subsidy of urban transport also benefits those in urban areas disproportionately, so should we scrap that too?

          And entitlement to the SG card begins on your 65th birthday, so it’s over 64s that benefit as well as over 65s.

        5. Haha, good point, I should be be using 65 and over. I was trying to avoid using elderly as I don’t particularly like the term.

    2. They get free travel for the same reason under 6’s got free medical care. The government of the day needed Winston Peters and he twisted the government’s arm for some concessions.

      1. Unfair, unfair. The reason for the concession is the benefit for physical and mental health of elderly people, which has never been studied and reported upon to my knowledge. If you keep older people active and getting around, we will be less of a burden upon the health system.Those of us who think that public transport is beneath them might give it a go for free. We’ll keep our potentially wonky driving off the roads. We are travelling when buses are going anyway but not full, so we won’t increase the cost – as long as the refund is based upon vehicle trips and not upon individual passenger numbers, which I gather will be the case shortly. It’s a good news story, and even more so when we are tagging on and off like the rest of you and not troubling the driver every time.

    1. HOP Supergold fraud is much easier to perform, with the two beeps there’s no way to tell the difference between Child, Tertiary & Senior concessions. The colour makes no difference as many people can/will use the card from within their wallet or pouch etc.

      At least with showing the driver or ticket inspector your supergold card or supergold ticket there was the simple – Hey! you don’t look over 65! barrier. Sure people aged slightly below the requirement might be able to pull it off but most people around that age are pretty honest.

      Plus there will still be tens of thousands of Blue HOP cards with the Supergold concession anyway.

      I am a bit concerned with where Seniors will top up, many don’t use the internet, and sure many don’t travel before 9am but with the amount of FPD issues we keep seeing, the $5 penalty fare is going to probably come by every so often. The amount of physical top-up locations is extremely poor compared to previous smart-cards.

      1. Valid point re fraud! Seems like it would be easy to borrow grandma’s card for a trip to Waiheke..

      2. Simplest method would be to have different beeps like they do in Japan. Normal beep for adults, bird song for children and a creak for gold? 🙂

    2. I would have thought that the potential for fraud would be reduced, since photo ID is required for adding the concession but no photo ID is required when using a SuperGold card.

      1. Would be quite easy to borrow or buy a hop card with a super-gold concession added (concession added by a genuine supergold card holder, who doesn’t use Auckland public transport (perhaps live outside Auckland)). As long as you didn’t use it on the trains (where there are ticket inspector’s with card readers), it would be hard to get caught.

        Borrowing grandma’s card for a trip to Waiheke is an obvious example.

        1. The AT Hop card requires the extra step of producing photo ID when adding the concession, so your out-of-Auckland grandma would have to be in on the act. But you could just “borrow” her SuperGold card…

  12. Living out of AUckland I don’t have a hop card what ever they are so if I go to Auckland and wish to use public transport surely you must have a cash type alternative ? Buying a concession type card for one short trip would make PT useless for visitors surely?

  13. So what happens if someone with a HOP card with a supergold concession forgets to tag off? Does their free trip suddenly get charged a penalty fare or no? That would quickly eat up the $5 credit. Then will the card not work the next time they try to board?

    1. and from what I gather from the lady commenting the other day – if you forget to tag off 3 times the card gets locked and you cannot use it anymore?

    2. I think that is the whole point of the change. AT have realised there is a huge amount of money to be made from bewildered people tagging on and not tagging off. Who better to target in their eyes than the elderly.

  14. My parents have tried to register their SuperGold concession on their AT HOP cards twice, once at Britomart and once at Albany bus station. Both times the computer system didn’t respond (it was registering Student concessions okay, but not SuperGold). According to the people at the kiosks, this happens a lot for SuperGold.

    A lot of people are asking about how to get it done at places that sell AT HOP cards, and I was at one of these places at such a time and the staff there advised that paper forms are supposedly going to be distributed to places that sell/top-up AT HOP cards for SuperGold card holders to complete and send to AT. Presumably the data will then have to be manually entered into the computer system?

    What kind of computer system is that? AT should demand their money back from whoever sold it to them, and charge them for all the extra work it has cost them.

  15. This should just be rolled into the pension as a small increase for everyone. This just benefits over-65’s that live somewhere large enough to have public transport, especially it would appear those that have access to Waiheke ferries and Wairarapa trains for a day at the vineyards.

    1. Some of these comments are a bit unsupportive – is it really helpful to be using this thread to dump on any particular portion of our population – be they young or old? In off-peak times if the PT is underutilized (which sometimes it is sometimes it’s not) how does it hurt to have additional people using it fir free, if it gets people out and about when they might not otherwise afford to or encourages them to use PT over cars that can have a lot of benefits that might not be directly calculable. I can see there would be many health benefits – mental and physical health (e.g. and this is not a comprehensive list, there are huge health impacts for people of any age from getting out and about where they might not be able to budget it otherwise, the physical benefits of walk etc involved to get to bus etc, the stress relief of knowing even if the budget is tight they can be involved and do things like meet friends (company/social interactions has huge mental and physical health benefits) be involved in community engagement maybe volunteer work, child care (a lot of grandparents I see take their grandies out maybe even car for them while parents are at work this might help them to take them to things like playgroups etc), get to hospital appointments etc (maybe if they could not the hospital cost for shuttles etc or miss appointments might be higher or health costs of the person missing them and then ending up more unwell etc). By targeting this for the retired population, on a fixed income, many of who do have limited funds and also a high health burden often with chronic longterm issues there are probably some cost savings in other sectors. Also some older people become less keen to drive and this combined with free trips at certain times might just make a shift to PT the way to go for them. Then I can see there is the benefit to all of a group of core PT users with experience and a voice in encouraging improvements to the system and ensuring it caters for all needs. I do agree that those in general on a low income could benefit from subsidised PT and that those in rural areas not served by PT do miss out in respects to benefits but I don’t think this should be a either its them or us debate. I wonder if some initial rationale on this might have been driven by the lower patronage off-peak on PT meaning the system had capacity to do this without additional operational costs (e.g. more buses) but was more the administrative costs.

  16. While I support needing a HOP card to get concession fares, this process does seem a little needlessly complex. Hopefully eventually NZTA will have rolled out HOP nationally and the physical SuperGold card can double as the pass itself, nationally, without needing to faff around getting concessions loaded and go show ID at places.

    But it’s worth pointing out that the process for SuperGold is still easier than it is for tertiary students. Let alone getting equivalents like a WINZ benefit or community services card, if you’re under 65. And you’ve only got to do it once, ever, and then you’re sorted, instead of needing to renew every year.

    1. Burgeoning about as much as the current black market for SuperGold cards, perhaps?

  17. Peter F
    May 29, 2016 at 10:53 am · Reply
    So what happens if someone with a HOP card with a supergold concession forgets to tag off? Does their free trip suddenly get charged a penalty fare or no? That would quickly eat up the $5 credit. Then will the card not work the next time they try to board?

    May 29, 2016 at 3:51 pm · Reply
    and from what I gather from the lady commenting the other day – if you forget to tag off 3 times the card gets locked and you cannot use it anymore?

    Any definitive answers to the above questions yet.

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