Union Concern Over Tag Offs


The Wellington Tramways Union has raised concerns about the “tagging off” requirement of the Snapper/HOP card.
In a submission to the Wellington regional transport plan, it says that while the Snapper system used at Go Wellington and Valley Flyer has improved since it first came out, it still has a number of issues.
“In particular the fact that passengers have to “tag on” and tag off often means people linger at the rear door of the bus slowing the service down. More seriously people sometimes forget to do this, then remember and stick their arm back in the door just as the driver is closing it and about to pull out.
“Overseas ticketing systems such as Oyster in London seem to work a lot better.”

The union’s submission also laments the sobering effect rising public transport fares has on patronage growth. Last year’s rises couple with GST resulted in flat growth which has only now started to show a small increase again.
“It was obvious in 2010 when fares increased that this had an adverse effect on patronage. Whilst we understand that rising costs and in particular the increase to GST meant that running the service became more expensive, our union believe holding the fares where they were while the cost of living and everything else (and in particular fuel) increased, would have been a great way to increase public transport use in the region.
Our union has no concern with there being a standardised fare system nor any integrated ticket system. Nor however would we be opposed to a system like other cities around the world where public transport is free, at least at certain times or on certain runs.”
Of course free fares is neither practical nor sustainable. The free transport for those 65 years and over has already raised concerns about the cost and if everyone could travel free, the system would not be able to cope, as in Auckland’s case, it is already straining near capacity levels.

The union notes and welcomes the investment on upgrading the Wellington rail network but says the Wellington City trolley bus network needs has for a number of years suffered from lack of investment, particularly in the substations that feed power into the lines.

“The result is that often the voltage supply is low meaning Trolley buses trip the circuit breakers causing delays in service reliability. We understand one of the problems with this is a long standing argument between local, regional and central government as to who should pay for this work. We see this as highlighting some serious deficiency in the way local and central government manages this service, and does nothing to inspire the confidence of the Wellington public in the service. We hope the relevant agencies can come to an arrangement and that the trolley network gets the investment it seriously needs in the near future. ”

MANNERS: Pedestrians getting hurt by not seeing buses

On the contentious issue of those Manners Mall bus changes, which have seen seven people hit by buses since the new priority lanes opened in November. They include Venessa Green, who was killed while jogging across Willis St in June. Wellington City Council has talked of introducing targets such as driver training, reporting of hazards, accidents and near misses, and prioritising safety over timetables, with fines or the possible termination of contracts for companies that miss them.
The union blames “poor design and a serious J-Walking culture in the inner city,” and not unsafe driving by bus operators.”
“This issue has the potential to seriously erode public confidence in the Wellington bus service. Whilst the design and management is the responsibility of city councils we believe Greater Wellington has a responsibility to make sure roads used by Metlink Buses are fit for purpose. Roads should have a clear buffer zone between the foot path and the road, an adequate number of pedestrian crossings and a serious public safety campaign promoting pedestrian safety such as the one run in Melbourne. Our union believe Greater Wellington can play a much more proactive and positive role in, potentially preventing the accidents that have occurred. “




  1. Kris says:

    I was under the impression in 2007 or 2008 that Vector who looks after the power delivery to the trolley bus network had quoted that is would take $15 million to upgrade the sub stations so the new trolley buses could use their regenerative braking systems.

    The sub stations was part of the business case from Wellington regional council to the Government & NZTA for the new trolley bus fleet.

    In late 2008, NZTA approved funding for sub station upgrades & the Regional Council advised Vector that funds were available for the upgrade.

    I did know before leaving Wellington, that Vector was dragging it feet over the upgrade. So what happened? Does anybody know?

    There are some bad patches on the network, where there is power leakages especially on the Haitaitai side of the Haitaitai bus tunnel, where the newer trolley buses would crawl their way up the hill to the tunnel entrance, due to voltage drop cause by powerleakage despite an overhead feeder at the entrance of the tunnel and two overhead feeders in Haitaitai village.

    Is this another case of bureaucraticy between the regional council, NZTA and NZ Bus.

    I always believe that the trolley bus fleet should have been owned including the overhead should have been own by the regional council and contracted the fleet out to a bus operator, as in the case of the Maitangi trains.

  2. Carl says:

    this tagging off issue is rubbish. Perth or any other city I have been to has no drama’s with it, if you forget to tag off its your fault and next time you tag on, you pay the default fair.

    You can’t get through the gates if you don’t tag off on your oyster card in london either, and like wise the same with the bus, you’ll get charged a default fare according to where you get back on….

    if they are worried about the timing of buses and a mass amount of people getting off at one stop and holding up the bus, then they need to review there timetables.

    I’ve never heard a more stupid comment in my life.

    it makes life easier for people that they can preload money on there top up card and tag on and off when they feel like it.

    add direct debit to the mix and they shouldn’t have to que for tickets.

    man I’d have thought getting more people onto this scheme would be a good one.

    It also means bus drivers don’t have to handle as much money also.

    isn’t that a win win situation? id have thought so.

  3. Commuter says:

    Sorry Carl, you’re wrong on a number of points. With Oyster cards in London you don’t tag off buses; because it’s a flat fare for all buses, for all zones, there’s no need. And given the narrow exits on most New Zealand buses I suspect the union has a valid point when it suggests that tagging off causes delays. As well, drivers of TfL buses don’t carry cash under any circumstance: if you want to pay a cash fare (and, strangely enough some do despite the massive difference between Oyster and cash fares), it’s pre-pay either from machines or from accredited vendors. I’d also point out that delays can’t be timetabled for given the variability of patronage.

  4. pete says:

    @ Commuter - Cash fares on some London buses are still accepted on board but significantly higher than oyster fares as you note. Each route is different but prepay is not London wide.

  5. Carl says:

    well commuter they must have changed it since I have been there,

    because i remember friends using there cards to go for it.

    works in Perth here without any major issues.

    there is no way flat fares could be charged here because some bus routes cross over 2/3 zones and some bus trips are rapid trips were the trains don’t go.

    as I said, there is nothing wrong with it, it works great.

    it takes time to get use to it though. I’ve never missed a bus tag off, but some of the train stations yes i have, but you got an annoying reminder when you tag back on in the morning and you get charged a default fare.

  6. Pickle says:

    I think by adopting larger zones and making buses other than the central city trollies primarily rail feeders would get rid of the need to tag off on most services. Auckland and Wellington should look at reducing the amount of zones so that zones 1,2 &3 are in zone 1 and so on.

  7. George D says:

    Of course free fares is neither practical nor sustainable. The free transport for those 65 years and over has already raised concerns about the cost and if everyone could travel free, the system would not be able to cope, as in Auckland’s case, it is already straining near capacity levels.

    I don’t come to the same conclusions. Obviously, it would have to be funded, and this is the sticking point…

  8. Frank says:

    Re: the inner city streets, Manners St et al. It would help if buses actually kept to the 30kph speed limit. Its obvious that a lot of them don’t. I’m not saying the accidents are being caused by this, but its not a great look to see buses speeding down the narrow CBD streets.

  9. Pim says:

    I thought the whole point of the integrated ticketing system was to do it on how far you travelled, not how many stages? If not, what is the point of having it in the first place?

  10. Roger says:

    Why not have a flat fare? In San Francisco the Muni system has a fare of $2. Their bus network is similar in range to ours.

  11. andypipkin says:

    I am confused here so what are Infratil the owners of NZ Bus going to put in to the upgrading of the system. Infratill are a private commercial company, so why does the tax payer need to pay for an upgrade for their benefit, surely they knew the problems and issues and what investment would be required before they bought the company from Stage Coach? Again Infratill does zero investment and expects the tax payer to do it all while they take the profits away for putting zero dollars in to investing.

  12. Owen Thompson says:

    Privatise the profits & socialise the losses.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>