Integrated Smartcard Ticketing To Get National Standard


Snapper is popular in Wellington

With integrated ticketing around the corner, but Snapper already up and running in Wellington, the NZTA wants to develop a national standard for smartcards and card readers in the next few months.

Snapper wants to introduce its cards to Auckland buses, ahead of Thales cards, which will be introduced hopefully in time for the Rugby World Cup.

In a worse case scenario, Auckland cards would have to conform with a Thales standard but the Wellington cards presently in existence would be different meaning your Snapper card would not work in both cities.

An open standard for cards, readers and systems would get around that.

In the last week, Snapper, along with Thales and other industry participants,  has been involved in a meeting with NZTA on creating one standard for all, which it likes because it would create:

  • a greater convenience for customers of public transport
  • Choice for public transport operators in the systems they can use
  • Useful data for planning the overall public transport network
  • Better value for money from services

Snapper is doing a great thing by pointing out the actual user - the public transport customer- is not getting a say. It’s lobbied so that NZTA will now accept consumer interest groups as part of this process through joining the advisory group that determines the scope of the standards and provides advice to the technology workstream on priorities.

Key issues that this group will have to deal with include the need for national interoperability, transition issues from other technologies and support of fare policies that make sense to customers.

You can make your suggestion of who should be advising at the Snapper blog




  1. Nathaniel flick says:

    It seems backwards to me for Auckland to choose Thales last year only to have that decision questioned now. Why is there not more research done before these important deisions are made?

    It’s like the silly rwc harbor proposal all over again. Quite a waste.

  2. max says:

    The decision is not being questioned.

    However, Thales may have to do some changes to their proposed system to conform to a new standard. As long as this does not, by stealth, leverage them out of their contract, I see no problem with this, and potential for long-term gain.

  3. Cambennett says:

    “Snapper is doing a great thing by pointing out the actual user – the public transport customer- is not getting a say”

    Good old Snapper, always looking out for the interests of the general public.

  4. max says:

    “Good old Snapper, always looking out for the interests of the general public.”

    Corporations always do that, Cambennet. And the most altruistic are their public relations departments ;-)

  5. Jeremy Harris says:

    It will be good, for tourists especially, if you can buy a card, any card, at the Auckland Airport, load it up with credit and use it all over the country…
    Auckland will still have the Thales card with all the extra goodies in the ARTA contract and I can continue to use my Snapper card as a coaster in my computer room (don’t get to Wellington more than once or twice a year)…

  6. Guys

    Interesting to see your comments.

    Here is a gilt-edged opportunity to be part of a national solution that will mean customer friendly fare policies that the ticketing systems will support, as well as genuine national interoperability. This is not about questioning the Thales decision - its about making all the pieces work together nationally in a seamless way. Much like the EFTPOS network.

    You’ll note that ARTA are saying that a fare policy that has elements like a zone based system, with transfers and capping, is several years away. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Whether you believe it or not, I personally pushed very hard to get customer representatives as part of the decision making process as opposed to groups that were just informed. That was despite a prevailing view that customer groups were ‘too much trouble’. We are also the only group to publicise this - unless you have received a letter in the mail from NZTA personally inviting you in the last week.

    I’d encourage you to put your cynicism to one side - NZTA is the group leading this - not Snapper. Snapper is one of 9 participants. It would be good to see some customers there pushing for what you want to see.


    PS Max - we don’t have a PR department. I write the releases and answer them personally.

  7. Matt L says:

    Miki - I agree with your comments that customer groups need to be involved in this process as often people in the industry lose side of the actual goals with this kind of thing. However you should be aware by now that people get a bit cynical when hearing about Snapper doing something due to some of the actions your company has taken over the last few years.

    It is entirely possible that we would be close to having an integrated system in place in Auckland had you not continually challenged the decision to award the contract to Thales. As a result of this the impression many people get is that Snapper is just petty, self interested and not really that concerned about Auckland.

    I’m sure that had you won the contract you would not be so keen for national standards that may let you still introduce your system like you are now

  8. Jeremy Harris says:

    If you can introduce a zonal based fare system in Auckland, with ticketing machines on NZ buses that can accept, not only Snapper and Thales cards, but be interoperable with nationwide cards, I think you would have done Auckland and NZ a great service as PT patronage NZ wide would see great growth…
    A couple of questions though:
    - How do you plan to compete with a card that will be receiving subsidies from ARTA..? Better marketing..?
    - Why is NZ Bus still planning to introduce your own ticketing machines given that the NZTA has announced full interoperability is a must..?
    Surely it is going to be expensive to put these on 800 odd buses… Wouldn’t it be cheaper to allow ARTA to pay for it..?
    I guess my suspicion is the answer to the first question is that Snapper can’t compete but Thales would only be marginally cheaper so if Snapper has a large market share before the Thales Card is introduced it is hoped people will get stuck in their ways and stick to Snapper matched with ad campaigns telling them how much better Snapper is..?
    Am I wrong..?
    I also think the PTMA reforms Joyce hinted at again last week will explode rates which will be good for NZ Bus in theshort term but hurt PT patronage in the long term as it has everywhere it has been tried over the last 30 years, this will cetainly hurt your bottom line at Snapper as potentially the 50% farebox recovery ratio will to…

  9. Matt

    The National Standard is an NZTA initiative - not a Snapper one. We want customers to get involved. Despite your other feelings, there is room for you as individuals to represent yourself directly in this NZTA led process.


    You’re spot on - we will have equipment that reads a range of devices. The way the world is going, I would exoect to see us reading contact-less credit cards, mobiles and the like within 4-5 years.

    I am not sure that ARTA will be fully subsidising their cards. We received a very good hearing at the RPTP on this. ARTA’s current plan has it several 10′s of millions of dollars in the red. It simply cannot afford to buy cards for everyone in Auckland - otherwise it would have bought all the bus operator equipment.

    It is possible to have multiple card-issuers in the market (like EFTPOS) with customers choosing what works for them. Of course we will want to issue cards that are fully compatible with all PT services. Assuming the standard is not proprietary we will be able to achieve that.

    Your question on NZBUS is key - of course any transport operator would take equipment if ARTA was paying for it. The issue is that they are not - they simply don’t have the money to do so. And of course NZBus would not buy something that wasn’t guaranteed to be interoperable. So you’d have to assume that what we are providing will be interoperable once the standards are locked down. That’s why we’re participating in the standards.

    We don’t spend too much time worrying about what ARTA and Thales will do commercially - we think we have a proposition that works for customers and operators. If we’re wrong, people will vote with their feet.

    What we do spend time on with ARTA and Thales is how this will all work together. We’re all in the standards discussions together so I would like to think that with a constructive position on all sides we’ll end up with a system that’s up and running quickly.


  10. Sam says:


    Thanks for the above- you have clarified a number of things there. Its good to hear that your motive is to accelerate the scheme, and that you have invested in open card equipment so that the project can be delivered in a time frame not possible under NZTA funding alone.


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