Snapper Launched In Auckland


The Wellington-based Snapper Card, which will be one integrated ticketing option, has been officially launched this morning in Auckland although we haven’t learnt much we didn’t know and the path to integrated ticketing still seems a little more complex than one would have hoped.
The NZ Bus-driven Snapper card will be a transport option for integrated ticketing along with the yet to be released Auckland Transport card. But according to Stuff, that will be the new Auckland Snapper card - not the Snapper card I bought at an Auckland cafe last year to use there and try it out. That card is not compatible with Auckland public transport.
Snapper is also building out retail options where those with Snapper cards can use them instead of Eftpos to buy stuff.
In Auckland that includes Green Cabs, Subway, City Convenience and Fix outlets.
It was announced that as an introductory offer, Green Cabs will wipe any electronic service fee. Snapper expects 1000 Auckland taxis to be able to use Snapper and 2000 nationwide, Snapper plans to rollout its card nationwide.

Today’s announcement was more pushing the retail options for the contactless payment cards than  being about Auckland public transport.
It was earlier stated that North Star is expected to be the first of the bus fleet to launch the Snapper ticketing system in April.
Auckland Transport is expected to confirm the name of its smart card within weeks and launch a million dollar marketing campaign. It also will be seeking its own retail partners.
Snapper which is already well- used in Wellington on buses and in retail outlets, was allowed to run here as an alternative to the Auckland Transport smart card being designed and built by international giant Thales but had to be adapted to meet national standards so that the card would work in the same way as the AT smart card will.

Which is why my present Snapper card won’t work on the buses nor the trains when that is possible.

Aucklanders with the transport Snapper cards will also be able to use them on Wellington buses or at partner retail outlets like Subway.

Being the first out the gate in Auckland has advantages for the well-established Snapper.
There is no definite timeframe for when we can start using the AT card on buses and trains but it is promised to roll out progressively by the time of the RWC 2011.
Ducting for the train tag on tag off posts has begun around Auckland rail network stations with stations like Morningside, Mt Eden and Mt Albert completed as far as its underground component is concerned.
It will be interesting to see if Auckland bus users migrate to preferring Snapper as it is first into market and train users wait for the AT card.

The Infratil corporation which owns Snapper and NZ Bus also now own Shell service stations and one presumes Snapper would be a potential goldmine if promoted there for purchases at the service stations. It also runs Wellington airport so again there are options there. It may be that the long term goal is to develop Snapper as a lucrative Eftpos-alternative rather than just a convenience for public transport users. Today’s announcement would certainly suggest so.

As for integrated ticketing, all we got from today’s announcement was Snapper CEO Miki Szikszai saying: “Snapper continues to work in close partnership with Auckland Transport and Thales to bring the Auckland Integrated Fares System to public transport in the Auckland region. Auckland Transport will announce significant developments to the phased implementation of Auckland’s integrated ticketing system soon.”




  1. Nick R says:

    What, so there will be two kinds of Snapper plus the third AT card?

    So much for integrated ticketing! I wish Infratil would just accept they lost the tender fairly and not try and muscle in anyway.

  2. mark says:

    Nick R - I don’t really care what they do. As long as my AT card works fine with their readers, no sweat. If it doesn’t, Auckland Council / NZTA need to sue their pants of for noncompliance.

    However, one assumes that the contracts are clear enough to avoid that. So once my AT card works, and, potentially, their Snapper card DOESN’T work except with their own network, their cars immediately has a major competitive disadvantage.

    So I’d suspect that Snapper will try to brand their service in the sense of “all they other card can do PLUS”.

  3. Andy says:

    @Nick R - I don’t see what the problem is. It works fine over here. If it is true that the AT card is not fully compatible with the Snapper terminals, not everyone will want to use Snapper out of fear that if their card is stolen it would be used by whoever took it for more than just PT.

    Also, it means prices of the cards will be lower because there isn’t just one company selling them. (Unless they make some sort of agreement of course)

    As long as all of the cards work on PT everything is fine by me.

  4. richard says:

    I trust these cards are like those i experienced in Melbourne and to go from A-B within a certain time requires one fare for the distance. Unlike now, in Auckland, if transport services do not operate from A-B and you require two changes then you pay three fares for the three services.

    Most trips unless from a suburb to city centre require at least two services and this is a huge turn off when they seldom connect as well.

  5. Nick R says:

    If they all work just the same then I don’t have a problem, I’m just weary of believing they will given the track record on integration and co-operation from the likes of NZBus.

    Richard, unfortunately no. The indication so far is that there will be limited or no integration of fares to begin with, they will be more like a stored value card that can be used buy each operators fare products each time you board another bus. They have suggested that proper integrated fares will eventually occur, such a shame they can’t launch with it though.

    I agree, the Melbourne time based universal fare structure is the gold standard as far as I am concerned. You don’t actually need a smart card to do that though, Melbourne had paper tickets of that kind for about ten years and indeed you can get a limited version of it on the Northern Busway.

    In my opinion they should put the smartcard on the backburner for twelve months and roll out a paper version of Northern Pass region wide first.

  6. Matt says:

    Snapper will be “One kind of integrated ticketing”. Well there’s your problem there.

    I don’t trust the people at Snapper not to undermine the whole national integrated ticketing process and I do view the Auckland Snapper as sabotage.

  7. mark says:

    “In my opinion they should put the smartcard on the backburner for twelve months and roll out a paper version of Northern Pass region wide first.”

    Why??? Apart from the fact that stopping a running process always entails extra costs and delays, all you guys seem to forget that a smart card without any other features already has massive benefits for users (reducing the hassle of having the right ticket/money available, reducing boarding speeds and thus improving reliability etc…)

    Shoot for the moon, but don’t worry if the first step ends up just being earth orbit!


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