Any regular reader of this blog will know I’m not a fan of the way Auckland Transport has formed the HOP card, nor have I been a fan of how they have kept changing their mind, particularly around timelines. In fact, very recently (I can’t say when, but it is within the last two weeks), Auckland Transport has changed the HOP timeline again, adding a vague step about a pilot that seems to be the A-PASS that we saw during the Rugby World Cup. However, in an article today, Auckland Transport had the spotlight taken off them by an inadequate journalist at the (unsurprisingly) New Zealand Herald.
The article tells of a tale of woe about how the HOP card you have now is suddenly unable to work with other public transport providers. All of a sudden, we’re going to have to swap our HOP cards in mid-2012! Why did no one tell us!
Except, if you looked at the HOP website, you were told. As much as the HOP website has changed it’s tune about stage 2 of the process, completely removing it for a good three to six months, the final stage has stayed the same for the entirety of the project, the only difference is that Snapper will be involved with the final HOP product in the way that the Snapper card readers in NZ Bus services now will still read the Thales cards. All along it said at one stage or another – “What do I do?: Upgrade your HOP card”.
Yes, Auckland Transport will bear the cost of swapping the cards over. But they would have had this cost anyway. The only difference between changing to integrated ticketing with the Snapper HOP and changing with Go Rider in terms of cards is that you’re swapping with Snappers instead of Go Riders. In fact, Auckland Transport is slightly better off as they don’t have to arrange for NZ Bus to install new equipment in their buses. Ritchies, Birkenhead Transport, Howick & Eastern, Urban Express and Bayes Coachlines all have to install new equipment, with Fullers and Veolia (not entirely sure with Veolia – might be wrong, haven’t caught a train in a while) having installed it as part of the pilot test (the A-PASS). That’s a lot of companies to try and coordinate a simultaneous changeover with. With NZ Bus having already done this, it takes a huge load off Auckland Transport, given they control North Star, Waka Pacific, Go West, Metrolink and LINK buses. That’s half of the bus brands already set up.
If the Campaign for Better Transport had an issue with this, they should have spoken up well before now. We’re hopefully (and I say hopefully as we don’t have an end date for this) half way through the changeover process. If you are behind with the times, you probably shouldn’t go to the media complaining about it. Yes, I am against the way this process has gone. I wrote about this in June and again in July. But we’re well past the point of complaining about it now. It’s happened and frankly, there’s nothing that can be done about it now.
And really, let’s be honest – the Campaign for Better Transport doesn’t have many friends in politics. Len Brown seems to be one of the few. Probably not a good idea to out your friends like that…