Integrated Ticket Bombshell: Snapper’s Onslaught Into Auckland


snapInfratil is upping the stakes in the integrated ticketing saga by revealing it’s going to steal the march on Thales, ARTA’s preferred supplier, and  will go ahead anyway and bring its so-called integrated ticketing  - in the form of its Snapper card –  to Auckland from about June.

Dangling the carrot that it can bring a nationwide system in time for the RWC without any cost to Auckland ratepayers, Infratil will introduce the Snapper cards on NZ Buses in Auckland and by the end of next year, the cards will be available to 60% of Auckland’s public transport market.

It’s also pursuing other transport operators in Auckland, including taxis, trains and ferries and Auckland bus users will be able to use the same cards when they go to Wellington or anywhere else in the country that will use Snapper, thus proving it can provide a uniform nationwide system.

Snapper’s CEO, Miki Szikszai, says  that if other transport operators come on board,  Snapper could have integrated ticketing on 90% of Auckland public transport in time for the rugby world cup and is willing to work with ARTA to make that happen.

Under ARTA’s preferred tender arrangement, it’s likely Thales could manage only the start of integrated ticketing at the most when the games kick off in October 2011.

But NZ Bus, Infratil’s subsidiary, promises it will definitely deliver integrated ticketing in time for the cup.

Last month, I blogged about how Infratil was upping its intensive lobbying, especially in Auckland.

And to show its serious in the Auckland market, Infratil will open a Snapper office in Auckland in the new year and also pursue retailing partners for which the card can be used. Already in Wellington, card holders can use Snapper in places like Subway and Wishbone stores.

Last week, I used the Snapper card in Wellington on buses and to buy some lunch food and coffee. The integrated Thales ticketing system being pursued by NZTA and ARTA is more of a closed system for public transport only so the Snapper system is appealing in that it acts more like a debit card for a range of shopping options but has a $300 limit. You can add in money in a variety of ways - at participating shops or online.

If Thales goes ahead, it means we will have two systems in Auckland, with two reader options. It’s possible that Snapper will win, as it will be attractive for use in those other spending options, rather than carrying two cards - if Snapper manages to extend the range of participating dealers.

But this require more transport operators, including other bus companies and especially Veolia and official transport authorities buying into Snapper as well as Thales. Otherwise, we will have the crazy situation of one card used by bus passengers and another card used by train or harbour ferry passengers, who would also like to occasionally take a bus but either have to pay cash or buy a Snapper card as well.

In view of the assurances about bringing in Snapper in time for the RWC when thousands of visitors will be in town expecting a modern city which has integrated ticketing, are we making the right call in going with Thales?

Thales definitely brings more than just a card, including a total nationwide solution that has been worked through overseas and has all the bells of whistles for use on station platforms, etc but thanks to all the official dithering, which started with the Labour government, we ‘re leaving it late.

Whatever happens, Snapper is coming to Auckland’s NZ Buses and soon. If nothing else, today’s announcement gives all parties the hurry up.

ARTA’s Chief Executive, Fergus Gammie says more details of the timing for Auckland’s integrated ticket would be made available shortly.

He calls the Snapper announcement  ‘premature’ as the authority is currently negotiating a contract for a full multi-modal integrated ticketing system for bus, rail and ferry services in Auckland. He points out that  Snapper was an unsuccessful bidder in the public tender for the Auckland ticketing system and there will be opportunities for other suppliers to be involved in Auckland’s system. These will be developed in conjunction with NZTA and the industry.

Mr Gammie stated that “All Auckland public transport operators will be required to participate in ARTA’s ticketing system. ARTA is working with all of its operators, including NZ Bus, on this matter”. Mr Gammie said more details of the timing for Auckland’s integrated ticket would be made available shortly.




  1. Luke says:

    The Snapper is NOT an integrated ticket, just an electronic ticket. Its adoption will prevent integrated ticketing from taking hold in Auckland as it desperately needs to.
    As an e-ticket just run by one company it does not fit well with a simple Auckland wide ticketing system that is desperately needed for large pt service increases that are needed. I feel NZ Bus are using there effective monopoly on Auckland bus servces to bully ARTA/ARC into accepting an inferior system.
    I fear though this may be enough for Joycey to kill off Thlaes version.

  2. James says:

    For bus tickets, snapper doesn’t add much that isn’t already present with Go-rider cards.

  3. Chris R says:

    I do have to wonder why Infratil are doing this if they are selling NZ Bus?

  4. jarbury says:

    Maybe Infratil aren’t going to sell NZ Bus after all. Actually, if they did I wouldn’t have anywhere near as much of a problem with Snapper as I do now.

    Interesting development today for sure. Hopefully NZTA’s universal standards for integrated ticketing systems will mean that Snapper and Thales can both operate fine in Auckland interchangeably.

  5. Jon C says:

    It is not related to their moves to consider selling NZBus. That decision has not yet been taken as they continue to juggle the books. The process to buy Shell NZ is a long and complex one. The immediate move is to head off Thales and get a foothold in Auckland.

  6. Nathaniel Flick says:

    This move is very odd considering Arta has already greenlighted Thales.

    I can only imagine nzbus/infratil is making a last ditch play to increase the value of nzbus before they sell.

    Either way transport in Auckland is a joke. I have to buy a car, but it was fun while it lasted.

  7. Andrew says:

    Snapper have said they’re working with the NZTA on these national interoperability standards.

    I do hope they’re not trying to define those standards to the point that only they can provide the service…


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