Just Tag Off Will You!


There was amusing disquiet on my bus yesterday when a crowded bus got sick of hearing the HOP reader announce every few seconds at a bus stop “Remember to tag off.”
One woman close to the door who seemed genuinely troubled by the distraction cupped her hands over her ears and yelled “SHUT UP!” while a group of students down the back started mimicking the voice with what they considered highly amusing variations!

I am amazed how many people are using the card and not paying cash - it will be interesting to get the next update on the uptake of the card.

The odd person who comes in with a $20 note instead of a card is almost resented by the bus because it holds the driver up at the stop.

Several cards on that trip needed several goes at reading the card so there is obviously a knack to it if you think you can just wave it past quickly and the reader seems to pause for a few seconds before acknowledging it.

I wonder what  triggers “check your balance” - how low does it get before that happens as it was a common instruction yesterday.

Your experiences?




  1. Steve says:

    Anything less than $12 triggers it here in Wellington. Would imagine it similar in Auckland

  2. Hi

    The reminder to please tag off will be in place for 30 days for each operator and then revert to a standard beep. We are really keen that customers don’t get disadvantaged through penalty fares by not tagging off.

    The current ‘please check your balance’ trigger is $12. we are keeping an eye on that too.

    We have a couple of ringtone downloads for the PT geek in you at



  3. Jeff says:

    ^well look who it is.

    I got my first ‘remember to check your balance’ this morning. Given that I have a maximum of $20 on my card at a time, I think $12 is wayyyy too high, and rather embarrassing to have shouted at you in front of a busload of people when half asleep.

  4. Nick Warner says:

    Seen a few looks of disappointment on passengers when told they couldn’t top up on the bus. One lady was lucky she had cash on her! Ridiculous that they can’t be topped up online till 2012. What is this? 1992?

  5. Andrew says:

    “The reminder to please tag off will be in place for 30 days for each operator and then revert to a standard beep”.

    Thank goodness for that.

    Another thing I saw was a girl tagging off, seeing the “difference” fare on the display, and yelling back to her friend on the bus “wow, just $2.07!” (the figure may have been different).

    Does this still just show the difference in price between the “minimum” fare chargeable and the actual fare charged? I admit I haven’t recently checked that myself but recall that being the case in Wellington. Would it make more sense to show the total charged for the ride when tagging off?

  6. anthony says:

    Man, that would also drive me spare…
    Why can they just do that when the bus doors are OPEN?

  7. Andrew J says:

    The one I had this morning from Maioro St didn’t charge me anything when I tagged on (thought that was unusual having used Snapper countless times in Wellington), but then charged me the expected $4.08 in Victoria St. This was a Metrolink bus coming in (2218), but my Go West bus going back the other way did the same thing too. Strange.

    A few people trying to wave the card in front of the reader. Sooner or later they will learn, you can’t do that, you need to keep it still. If it fails, pull it away a couple of seconds then try again!

  8. Andrew says:

    Given I usually have my phone out on the bus I tried slipping my card in between my phone and it’s case so I’d just hold my phone up to the reader. “Bedoo” - didn’t work, signal interference I guess :(

    Before that I ended up showing the girl in front of me how to tag on properly, she was both waving it and pulling away too soon

  9. Jacky says:

    Hey guys

    This video should have people how to tag on and tag off correctly




  10. George D says:

    People on the trains are also finding the new announcements intrusive and loud. Plenty of audible comments about the voice. Whether it’s too loud I don’t know, but it does detract from the experience for everyone who already knows where they get on and off.

  11. Andy says:

    @GeorgeD Detract from the experience? Of commuting? Of finding your station?

    Having had no announcement system has been an embarrassment. For a country that is generally good at providing service for the disabled, I find it shocking that it took so long. Not to mention lost tourists! Rugby World Cup? Stations signs aren’t exactly easy to make out at night either.

  12. Doloras says:

    I haven’t experienced the train voice yet, but the Link voice is - while occasionally annoying and repetitive - useful and generally much more convenient than having to ask the driver which is the right stop (considering the drivers’ English tends to be a little wonky).

  13. Dee says:

    Used my Hop card for the first time yesterday - there were no constant announcements on the bus and nothing saying ‘check your balance’ either (which was $8 so well under $12). Worked first time tagging on and off so no problems there either. Bit of a nuisance not having a print out to remind you to top up, and also having to keep the card handy throughout your journey (can see many being dropped on the floor of buses!) As usual lots of people using my current bus route to go up Queen St to K Rd and using cash, really slows the trip down so won’t miss this when the route changes soon.

  14. stephen says:

    My frustration is the difficulty being able to ‘top up’. Yes there is the lengthy wait until this is available online in 2012, but for now Henderson commuters have a considerable walk up Henderson Valley Road to a remote corner dairy if they want to top up . Why they couldn’t have a terminal at the Henderson transport hub or the main shopping centre is beyond me.

  15. Jamee says:

    There was one in the Westcity Mall, which is where I bought mine. But they left as quickly as they came. Very irritating.

  16. HOP has been a retrograde step for the following reasons:

    1) Disabled people can only get a so-called accessible card from one of two places in Auckland. Why not just be honest and call it an inaccessible card? Has it occurred to anyone at Hop that disabled people might have difficulty getting to one of these two places?

    2) I live in Manurewa and wanted to transfer my Go Rider balance to Hop. I found out that it could only be done in Manukau, and the “service” was only available for four days. This is utterly unacceptable. Do the people who run this system have any idea what it’s like to live without a car?

    3) Previously we could top up at a shop or on the bus free of charge. Now we can only top up at a shop and it costs 25c. Again, do the people who run this system have any idea what it’s like to live without a car? Promising online top up next year is unacceptable (it’s not exactly bleeding edge technology), and useless to people who don’t have internet access and/or a suitable method of payment.

    4) Previously we received a little piece of paper that told us what balance remained. Now we have to remember what the machine tells us, go to a shop, or go online.

    5) We the taxpayers are going to have to pay for tens of thousands of new cards later in the year.

    6) When compared to Go Rider the system is twice as much hassle for those carrying luggage and shopping; in fact, it’s a royal pain. No longer can they simply pick up their bags and walk off the bus.

    7) If you want the safety of registration (funds protected in the event of loss) and the convenience of online top up you have to live with the fact that the police, bus companies, and goodness knows who else can access a record of your travels. This system is a win for the surveillance state. History shows that governments use and abuse any advantage that technology gives them.

    From the Hop privacy policy “There may be times when we need to disclose your personal information to HOP Partners (NZ Bus, Snapper, Thales). If we do this, we will only disclose your information to: [...] persons to whom we may be required to pass your information by reason of legal, governmental or regulatory authority including law enforcement agencies and emergency services”

    8) If you register your card you’re open to receiving spam. Again, from the Hop privacy policy: “There may be times when we need to disclose your personal information to HOP Partners (NZ Bus, Snapper, Thales). If we do this, we will only disclose your information to: [...] If you have not opted out of receiving marketing material from us, we may also provide your personal information to carefully selected third parties who we reasonably believe provide products or services that may be of interest to you and who have contracted with HOP to keep the information confidential, or who are subject to obligations to protect your personal information. ” Note the arrogant presumption that you want to receive junk mail. This is another way for Auckland Transport to make money.

    If you want to use a Hop card and value your privacy you have to avoid registration, buy a card with cash, and top up with cash.

    Monopolies always give terrible service: we see this in public transport, state hospitals (they have a monopoly over acute care and grossly distort the market for subacute care), state roads, and so forth. Is anyone out there old enough to remember what phone services were like when Telecom had a monopoly?

  17. Andy says:

    Bit of a nuisance not having a print out to remind you to top up, and also having to keep the card handy

    A nuisance having to keep your wallet handy? Seriously? I’m about ready to jump on the bitter and frustrated train with Carl! (No offence Carl! :P ) We might as well just drive the bus to your driveway too since walking is such a nuisance too!

    @Andrew - That’s interesting about the phone. Everyone here in South Korea has mini-cards hanging off their and even some inside the phone. Give it another try? That’s unusual if it really doesn’t work.

  18. Andy says:

    @Mandeno Musings, sure, lets just go back to cash. And while we are at it we should stop using our bank cards too since I always have to remember my balance for that and transactions are tracked.

    Do you realise how much waste those little pieces of paper cause? I rode a bus to school everyday and I have a fair idea. For a country so obsessed with its green image I’m glad it’s gone.

    By the way, what is stopping you from quickly tagging your card and then getting your shopping bag. Is it really that hard to put your bag down for a second? (Actually I often tag off over here holding things with the card in my pocket, don’t know about terminal heights in Auckland buses though.)

    I agree the roll out could have been done better but this type of attitude from NZers is exactly why NZ is so behind many other places in the world.

  19. Joshua says:

    How is it a nuisance to tag on and off using your hop card through your wallet, compared to taking your GoRider card out putting it in the reader, grabbing the paper ticket, the putting the card back into the wallet while having to retain the paper ticket?

    What do you have to hide that you don’t want the government and police to see your travel habits?

    You complain about spam even though you your self mention you have to opt into it anyways…don’t want it don’t opt it.

    Also the taxpayer and ratepayer have yet to pay for any cards, this rollout so far has been part of snapper which is owned by infratail, a company who pushed ahead to get there foot in the door before Thales came online. It’s the same company who own NZBus. They completed the rollout as a business venture not funded by the taxpayer, the ratepayers system is Thales system which will be installed in train stations and on ferries.

  20. Doloras says:

    @Andy, that’s a bit harsh - there is no place in the world where there is no-one who prefers not to change away from systems that they’re used to. But I totally agree that the end of paper tickets is a big step forward for environmental sustainability; and the nuisance of tagging off is compensated for by getting on the bus quicker and by not having to tell the driver how far you’re going.

    (Can you imagine Mandeno Musings refusing to tell the driver how many stages he wanted in case THE SURVEILLANCE STATE could narrow down his movements? If he wants to avoid the KGB or whoever now he can just go one or two stops early or later to throw them off, with as much “privacy” as before.)

    (Also, check out his blog on “Explaining the Bible”. I didn’t know half that stuff!)

  21. Andrew says:

    @Mandeno Musings: Get a Discovery Monthly pass. Unlimited, completely anonymous travel with no tagging off for just $240 per month :)

  22. Liam says:

    1. The website doesn’t tell you how many rides you have left.
    2. The history balance information on the website is supposed to be in $ but it is highly in accurate. This is most probably because of the delays in updating. I have been checking it and sometimes it takes a week for it to update my usage details.
    3. I ran out of rides without knowing. This was because you don’t get a piece of paper with your current ride count and you are usually in a hurry to get off the bus so you don’t take the time to look at the reader.
    After I next topped up I got a big surprise. Even though I had paid my $54 when I scanned the card over the reader it said “please pay the driver”. How is this possible? I went back to the dairy where I topped it up and they didn’t have a clue. The drivers on the bus didn’t have a clue and wouldn’t let me on even though I had the receipt for the top up, they told me that it isn’t their problem and to call Hop.
    So I called Hop and found out the problem. If you run out of rides and still use the card it will go in to negative credit for about one ride. When you top the card up again with rides it doesn’t take up the negative credit. You have to put “cash” on to the card to take up the negative credit.
    This whole system is very complicated and not at all user friendly. So complicated that they obviously haven’t been able to explain how it all works to the people who deal with the customers day to day. It seems like the technology they have used here isn’t sufficient at this point in time.


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