NZ Post & Aust Firm Win HOP Contract


Auckland Transport has awarded the tender to supply smartcards for the full stage roll out of Auckland’s HOP integrated smartcard to a joint consortium comprising Australia’s Placard and NZ Post.

The full stage roll-out of HOP will add trains, ferries and all bus operators to the mix.

Auckland Integrated Fares System Programme Director, Greg Ellis, says: “The final phase of HOP will begin mid next year and be completed by the end of 2012, with the introduction of trains and ferries initially, followed by all bus operators.

“Prior to that Auckland Transport will be undertaking an extended field trial of the system utilising selected users. This type of closed pilot follows international best practice for the introduction of a new public transport ticketing system.”

Good to see some progress… but end of next year? Geez…. Today I hopped onto the Northern Express and tried to find the HOP card tag machine. The bus driver was concerned, thinking I was sneaking on without paying.

I did not have any coins and had forgotten this popular service was not yet HOP-enabled.

Originally I’m sure there was talk of trains for the end of this year - like now. And I guess it means replacing the present card although that remains fuzzy.

Auckland Integrated Fares System Programme Director, Greg Ellis, calls Placard is a leading smartcard manufacturer and provider of card management solutions in our region.

He says Placard’s partnering with NZ Post adds specific local know-how which will underpin the distribution of the manufactured cards.

“The cards will be distributed to both point-of-sale as well as direct to customers who purchase them online.”

Mr Ellis said the first phase of HOP was rolled out very successfully in May this year onto NZ Bus services.

HOP: Hurry up for trains please

Placard’s site says Placard was established in 1987 in Melbourne as a manufacturer of quality plastic cards “and developed and enhanced a reputation as being a card manufacturer that meets its commitments to its clients, and consistently achieves service levels beyond the client’s expectations.

“Placard’s business is centered on providing its clients with tailored solutions based on their current and future business needs and is well established as a high quality card supplier, combining security accreditation from Visa, MasterCard, Bankcard, American Express and Diners Club with a quality system certified by Lloyds Register as meeting the latest global quality assurance standard.




  1. Matt L says:

    They can spin as much as they like but it is pretty clear that the project is slipping and I think AT need to come clear on that. I remember they were saying that it would be trains by the end of the year and other buses by the middle of next year

  2. Rob says:

    I don’t understand how the HOP cards will work on the trains. Are they going to put the readers at the train doors and expect everyone with cards to tag on and off?? Has there been any talk from AT about automated ticket gates at stations? That is the only way I can see HOP cards working for trains. I personally wouldn’t bother HOP enabling any part of the train network until such time as the new EMUs are all in service and sufficient stations on the network have been refurbished enough to allow for automated ticket gates to be installed. I read somewhere that AT were talking about only having automated ticket gates at Newmarket and Britomart…that’s just plain dumb!

  3. Feijoa says:

    @Rob, readers will be on posts at stations, so will rely to some extent on trust and random inspections. With gates at Britomart and Newmarket (maybe a couple of others?) it will ensure compliance by most people. I don’t see a dependency on EMUs.

  4. Jon C says:

    @Rob The tag post in the picture is at Morningside right by the entry and exit. Gates will be for only a few key station hubs like Britomart.

  5. Matt L says:

    Rob - at the moment about 80% of rail journeys either begin or end at either Britomart or Newmarket which is why they are the ones getting gates. For the other stations there are tag posts for people to use and I suspect we will see quite a change in how fares are policed i.e. it wouldn’t be hard, to have a staff member standing at highly used stations (like those near schools) at peak times and just watching to make sure that everyone tags their ticket.

    Also it is worth pointing out that AT has quoted the cost of putting fare gates in at around 500k per station.

  6. richard says:

    I still don’t understand the benefit of “Hop”. If your trip requires say a ferry plus a train and you are in the same fare zone do you still have to pay two fares to get to your destination? If your trip requires a transfer then you should only be charged the fare for the number of zones regardless of the number vehicles required.

    If Hop doesn’t do this what’s the point except faster ingress and egress to vehicles?

  7. Publius says:

    With just two ‘enforced’ gated stations I can see it working quite well without costing a fortune in equipment.

    Presumably there will be a penalty like there is for buses where if you don’t ‘hop off’ you get charged a penalty (I think the same price as if you rode the bus to the end of the route, ie ‘maximum’ fare).

    So for trains, the gates will enforce you to have to ‘hop off’ at britomart so if you didn’t ‘hop on’ you’ll get charged a Pukekohe or Waitakere fare.

    I look forward to the day when zone fares are replaced with a metres- travelled fare.
    Ie, $0.20/km on trains, $0.40/km buses. Simple. And it should make people think “ah the train is always cheaper!”

  8. Matt L says:

    Richard - the first stage is to get the system rolled out to what we have now (personally I think they should have done the integrated fares first before the technology). AT say that once it is rolled out then in 2013 they will do integrated fares so that you could transfer between buses and trains without incurring a penalty (ferries will apparently be different).

    I believe part of the problem is the myriad of operators, they are scared that by having free transfers it will mean the money they make will decrease so I suspect that AT has to wait for all of their contracts to end and to implement new ones that force the operators to accept it.

  9. Rob says:

    Folks, thanks for comments on my initial post. Much appreciated. I’m convinced its wasteful to be spending money on installing HOP reader posts at stations until such time as the EMUs are in service. For the cost of installing a reader post on station platforms now, it would be cheaper and more effective to install the small orange HOP readers that we see on the buses, at the door areas on the DMUs, as people have seen these things already, know what they’re for and have been conditioned to a certain extent to actually use them. Even with reader gates installed at Britomart, Newmarket and New Lynn, I can see a lot of fare evasion taking place in stations in between and if the Perth setup is anything to go by, many people will walk right through the open space beside the gate reader pretending they have a paper ticket (will there really be staff standing by those gates checking everyone for tickets??…I doubt that very much. If those small HOP readers are installed on the DMUs now and reader gates installed at Newmarket, Britomart and New Lynn, it will better get the travelling public familiar with the use of the card system. Train conductors will still sell paper tickets to the people who don’t have HOP cards and thus overall, fare evasion can be kept at a manageable level. When the EMUs come into service, there would of course be no door-side HOP readers and instead, HOP reader posts would be installed at station entry/exit points) along with staff to check on people tagging on / off and collect tickets etc, until such time as automated reader gates can be installed (at the $500K per station cost quoted by Matt L) at each station. If it is not done this way, I can see serious abuse of the system taking place.

  10. sooty says:

    so will they have ticket inspectors with hop readers to ensure you have actully tagged on, on the buses there is no ticket issued by the hop reader so its gunna be a scam, you could hold any old card up against the reader to give the impression you have tagged on, without some form of physical evidence like a ticket its gunna get abused. At least on the bus the driver is right there and can sort out the scammers before they get onto the bus, with the trains is gunna be a ride up easy street for many.

  11. Pim says:

    Guys, it can only get better because believe me there is a lot of fare evasion now aswell, mostly by school kids (I would know I am one myself), but from my understanding there will be one or two ticket collectors pet train with handheld devices and require people at random to scan their cards. I personally think that this should be sufficient. And if you put readers on the doors of trains, then you’ll slow down the process immensely; the dwell times will be huge, especially at some busy stations at peak times such as Glen Eden and plenty others. It just wouldn’t work. I think really the only people who will try and evade ticketing will be schoolkids, and possibly some of the younger generation (early 20s). Most people who have deskjobs would probably pay up. I’d probably say that AT have weighed it up and found that the amount it costs to put in gates at all stations would take too long to recoup, or the money just isn’t available. I think that the system they propose is fairly robust, and should work better than what we have now.

  12. pete says:

    In Gothenburg Sweden, they do random checks on the trams by flooding the cars at pre arranged stops, backed up by the police. The fines for evasion are large, offering a deterrent to those who chose to evade. Auckland (and NZ) need to learn from how things are done overseas to make it work well.

  13. Matt L says:

    Rob – Installing tag points on the trains themselves wouldn’t work and only serve to slow down boarding. It wouldn’t have been that much to install the posts as most of the works only took a few days to do as the platforms already had much of the cabling installed when they were updated. One thing to consider, we have about 40 stations and at an average of 3 posts per station that is around 120 all up.

    By comparison we would probably need two per door if they were put on the trains themselves, there are 4 doors per car and we are getting 171 cars in the EMU order, that would require almost 1400 tag posts to be installed, do you really think that would be more economical? You would also then have to develop a system to feed the information back to the central system, something the platform posts don’t have because they are wired in.

    Also the existing machines are only orange because they are the Snapper and it is quite likely that when the other bus companies will have ones that look different.

    The stations will also have machines so that people can buy paper tickets and yes the gated stations will be manned and I believe that Britomart will have something like 16 gates to clear people quickly (note: New Lynn isn’t getting them at this stage). For fare evasion there will be staff who have a handheld scanner that can go through trains and scan tickets, the scanner will tell them if someone hasn’t tagged on but there definitely isn’t a need for gates at every single station (although I would like to see a few others get them).

  14. Rob says:

    Matt, I wasn’t at all suggesting that HOP readers be installed on the EMUs as that makes no sense at all. I’d forgotten about the need for wireless transmission of the info back to a central point (as is the case with how the Snapper readers are set up on the buses at present) so can see now that HOP card readers on the current DMU sets (where each carriage has two doors) aren’t going to work because of that. I still think that placing HOP reader posts on station platforms as opposed to putting them at station entry / exit points (along with ticket vending machines) is going to make fare evasion easy, even with staff on trains carrying mobile HOP readers. At least New Lynn and Manukau should have automated ticket gates installed at the same time as Newmarket / Britomart are done. When in Sydney last year, at Central Station at the line of automated ticket gates and an open space beside it, I saw a fair number of people walk through that open space. They were not stopped by any of the staff milling around the gates. Clearly those people were fare evaders. I saw the same thing occur in Perth a week later at the main station (during rush hour). As Pete said, we really need to learn from overseas first - and by overseas I mean not just European countries and Australia but look at places like Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and rural Japan. Nowhere in the Asia (I’m traveling the region on average every 6 weeks these days) have I seen card reader posts on station platforms. Even in Manila and Bangkok, where the suburban (light) rail system has only been properly developed since the late 1990s, there are certainly no HOP-style readers on platforms let alone ticket machines and all stations have automated ticket gates no matter how small the station is. If such 3rd world countries can put automated ticket gates with smart card readers on all their station platforms, why can’t Auckland? This $500k per station install cost seems very high. Is the majority of this cost local labour charges or no?


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