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“Hop” onto North Star buses from May 8th

Well it seems the roll-out of the Hop Card is finally actually underway, with it being accepted on North Star buses from May 8th (not this coming Sunday, but the Sunday after that). Here’s what Auckland’s transport said today in a media release:

On 8 May HOP cards with a Snapper logo will replace Go Rider cards on North Star buses. The rollout will continue in the following weeks on Go West and Waka Pacific buses then Metrolink and LINK buses. HOP cards will be available from retail outlets from next Monday, 2 May.

GoWest and Waka Pacific will switch over on May 22, MetroLink and Link buses will then switch over on June 5.

It seems that Auckland Transport have learned a bit from the confusion that surrounded the launch of HOP, as CEO David Warburton goes into quite a bit of detail to explain exactly what roles Snapper, Thales, NZTA and Auckland Transport play in the project:

Dr Warburton says, “This first phase of Auckland’s smartcard gives cardholders the convenience of using the same card for everyday purchases with Snapper. NZ Bus has chosen to use Snapper’s equipment to join the HOP scheme, which will be adapted at the end of the year to interoperate with the Thales system when the next phase of the rollout with rail, some ferry and bus, comes into play.

“Thales is Auckland Transport’s long term provider for Auckland’s smartcard system, chosen out of a strong list of contenders. Thales is supplying design, technology and a system that allows for interoperability. Thales has been involved in ticketing programs for over 40 years with electronic ticketing solutions in operation in more than 100 cities around the world including involvement with Hong Kong’s highly successful Octopus card.

“It is the co-operation between Thales, Auckland Transport and Snapper which will enable Snapper’s equipment, NZ Bus, other transport operators and third parties to connect to Auckland Transport’s central system which is provided by Thales. We are also very appreciative of the ongoing support from the New Zealand Transport Agency”.

I’ve underlined four key words in the above quote, which indicate that the Snapper machines will ‘switch’ at some point towards the end of the year from connecting with the Snapper system to connecting with the Thales system. There’s still no final word on whether we’ll need to change cards, I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

Dr Warburton also provides some clarity on the ‘rollout process’ for the card over the next year and a half:

Dr. Warburton says, “Following the roll out of HOP on all NZ Bus services, the next phase of the rollout, Phase Two, will be near the end of the year using the Thales system. This phase will include the addition of rail and the Devonport ferry service. The third and final phase will roll out in 2012 which will see all rail, ferry services and bus services integrated onto a single card”.

One interesting thing that will need to be considered over the next few weeks is what happens on routes that are run my multiple operators. The vast majority of 004/005 buses are operated by Metrolink, but a small number (mainly interpeak, but also the 5.05pm bus) are operated by Northstar. I have also seen Northstar buses in the past on Sandringham Road routes. Whilst I already have a HOP card (and I should probably get around to topping it up) I suspect that most bus riders don’t yet have the card – there could be havoc when the first 5.05pm 005 North star bus turns up the week after next – with nobody being able to get on with their regular Go Rider pass.

All up, it’s good to see something finally happening with the HOP rollout, and it’s good to see someone from Auckland Transport finally speak with some clarity about how the whole Snapper/Thales thing will work out. As I noted above (and have noted in previous blog posts) I still have concerns about having to ‘swap out’ cards every time the system changes, but hopefully Auckland Transport and their partners will find a solution over the next few months that makes such a swap-out unnecessary.

23 comments to “Hop” onto North Star buses from May 8th

  • Stu Donovan

    Josh, as far as I know Metrolink and Northstar are not actually different “operators” – they are just different “brands” (I love food so prefer the term “flavas”) that are owned by the same operator, i.e. NZ Bus. I’ve never seen a route run by different operators, but I could be wrong.

    • Matt L

      That is correct however what Josh is trying to point out is that the Metrolink branded buses are not getting the equipment rolled out for some weeks after the Northstar ones are which is where the confusion could occur. There are different operators with routes around the city, Ritchies, Birkenhead Transport, Howick and Eastern and Urban Express all provide other bus routes in the region.

      • Stu Donovan

        Thanks for the clarification, I do see what you mean. My optimistic side hopes that NZ Bus will “micro-manage” the roll-out so that only one brand is used on those “mixed” routes for the intervening 2-week period before all the brands are swapped over. What are the chances of that? 50:50 I say ;).

  • Admin

    I’ll pass the feedback on the 004/005 service to NZBus.


    • Thanks Miki. While I certainly understand the need to use the buses most efficiently, having North Stars all over the place during the rollout will lead to a lot of confusion and annoyed customers.

      Same issue is likely to happen on New North Rd services as I think they are run by a mixture of Metrolink and Go West.

  • I think it might be helpful to talk about Hop card that is ‘snapper’ enabled. I guess this isn’t perfect buy hey, that’s the situation.

    … and maybe make the snapper symbol smaller than the hop symbol to empahsise this fact…

  • Stu Donovan

    Just as an aside – I assume this will eventually become a nation wide scheme, where people can also use their HOP card in Wellington right? Understand that Auckland is the first to get it, but does anyone know what the timelines are for a national roll out?


  • Simom

    I guess the council was hoping that a large number of people would switch to the printed monthly passes to reduce the number needing to switch from GO to HOP overnight.

    However on my bus (Dominion Rd) on about 1/3 of people are using them. Perhaps they should have promoted them a bit more aggressively as a transition.

  • pradeep

    I had the same thought when i caught the N13 (operated by metrolink). i use my gorider. during the day to work it is very hard to make out which one is doing a particular service the time tables only indicate they are operated by either one of them. 224,211,243.233,249 to name a few. More mis communication but NZ bus this time. i am sure they have made their plans to counteract this why they dont they just come out say it? clearly the thoughts here are not on the passengers.
    could it be that that none of these guys use PT all drive around their cars.(may be a bit harsh)

  • pradeep

    email from myhop suggested about the north star kicking of HOP this led me to look at whats been said about this transition. it has raised more questions than answers here is what they have to say,

    “What if I use more than one bus service?

    If you use multiple services (e.g. North Star and Metrolink) you may have to use your Go Rider card on one bus operator and your new HOP Card on another, until all bus operators move their equipment over to the HOP system”

    question/ should commuters like me actually keep the gorider card and buy a hop card?

    while i ws reading this i noticed the ad at the bottom page of the website about “switch from go rider to hop” looking through has got me even more worried.
    there is no info as to how the balance transfer will occour. i remember seeing them 3weeks ago in britomart. the tabular coloum with the NZbus brands and timelines of trastion is good but does not tell us
    Q- will transfer on HOP instant or have to wait for couple of days, the reason i ask is to know how long does this process takes so iam not late for work. the process need to be defined so people can plan their transition.

    Q -there are a lot of poeple (who i know of) dont follow forums or blogs i can already sense the anger and frustration they will put out. for eg britomart hop helpers will be flocked by all NZ bus users to get a hand on HOP hard and in the evening when they board a metrolink or even link they better have some cash handy.(from what i can see they are not in britomart until 30may so i have to go all the way to stop by newlynn or henderson to get in done)

    NZ bus might want to give some ear muffs to their drivers (most time the drivers give the answers I DONT KNOW or RING MAXX any way)
    MAXX you might want to increase your staffing levels on these days
    AT / NZ bus you might want to hire a couple of PR personell to answer these angry customers and another commu disaster.
    Blog/ forum readers if you come across any of your mates/friends in your daily travels caught in this fisaco (from may9) GIVE them a HUG or stop by a pub and DROWN THE SORRROW with them.

    i am not anti AT or anti NZ bus just trying to potray my predictions and think on what could we do now to make this less painfull

    • Scott

      I think it will work out Good (there will always be some people confused when a change happens – hopefully NZ Bus will give free rides to those going to work on the first day of hop being released if they try to use an go-rider).

      I will explain my understanding of the transfer process. (using north star dates). Hop will be available from Monday at many key locations. I will get a hop card from uni, my go rider will be marked with a punch so i cant get lots for free. I now will have a functional hop card and a functional go rider card. I will top up my hop card before Hop goes live on north star (Sunday 8th), I now have money/trips stored on both my hop card and go rider. After the 8th I will used Hop on north star services and go-rider on metro link etc. When you are finished with your go-rider you can go to a mall and transfer the remaining go-rider balance to hop. for me that will be after metro-link transfers to hop (22 May). If i didn’t want to go to a mall to transfer my balance I could just run down the balance on my go rider before the changeover date and start paying cash fares.

      To find out the balance transfer locations go to and click on the balance transfer links on the left hand side to see the locations.

      If you often use metro link then there is hardly any need to transfer your balance to hop until hop on metro link goes live on the 5th of June, that will be why the city transfer points do not open until then (i assume).

      I hope NZ-Bus has been told to give passengers stranded by the hop changeover free rides to minimize anger/bad press.

      I think with cards being issued at bus-stops from Monday most regular nz-bus users will end up with a hop card before there route changes over.

  • James B

    I can’t wait to see what the effect of this will be on present boarding times.
    At present it’s like.
    Step 1. Insert card
    Step 2. Did it read Y/N. If Y go to next step. If N eject card, blow on chip, rub chip and go to step 1.
    Step 3. Driver pushes button.
    Step 4. Take ticket.
    Step 5. Take card.
    Step 6. Sigh in relief that you are finally on the bus after waiting 5 minutes to get to the front of the queue.
    Step 7. Wait for 20 other people to complete the same process.
    Step 8. Yay, you’re finally going home!

  • .The current HOP-Snapper cards MUST be swapped out in December/January timeframe… The current JCOP technology will not work with thales’s DesFire technology. CEOs may say many things, but there is NO OTHER solution – you can quote me on my life for that.

    The HOP Man

  • By the way, the new rugby world cup pass is called “A- pass” .. “A” for Auckland !! A 1-day pass both smart card(tag on/tag off) and visual (with stickers!) .. And you can buy it only from 4 retail locations! Thats right- for you to buy a 1-day pass, you need to travel to that retail outlets… But then there is a better product you can get on bus! its called discovery pass.. cheaper & convinient!!!!! By the way “A-Pass” is aimed at tourists, but you cannot use it on Airbus where they come. Lol. There is HOP Snapper on Airbus though! So, would you buy Snapper or “A-Pass”.. Snapper. If you need a day pass? Buy discovery. !!

    The HOP Man

  • HOP Man, you seem to know a lot! I guess the “A” pass will be visual so that it can be used on NZ Bus services?

    I assume though that the Discovery Pass will continue to be just a paper based ticket, accepted on all trains and buses? Also why would Airbus go for Snapper if it has to be swapped out for Thales Desfire shortly?

  • What else, friends are for!!

    A pass is based on DesFire card Cam. You can tag on/tag off using that on NZ Bus+ train + ferry… But as I said before, its a smart card with some slots for paper stickers! paper stickers are for operators who doesnt have smart card readers!! So, in effect you dont have to tag on/tag off anywhere. just wave it to any operator!!! Thats stupid, but that will keep the promise of “smart card by RWC which can be used on all modes” isnt it ? ;) Politicians!! hmmm

    Discovery shud continue as it is… which makes it more cost effective and convinient… So as it currently works, it will work on all buses, ferries, rail. RWC pass is inferior and a waste dude!

    I think you know that Thales will not provide their bus equipments anyway! So the only player in bus market is Snapper!! They were rejected during tender process, but see what lobbying can do!!

    All NZ Bus must be able to accept Thales cards anyway.. so all the Snapper firmware is redeveloped..!!

  • NZ Bus

    NZ Bus has a tailored customer communications plan to ensure it is clear to our customers that it is North Star buses that change from Go Rider to HOP on 8 May. All North Star buses will change to the new HOP ticketing system on this date irrespective of which route they operate. HOP Helpers will be issuing HOP cards to Go Rider cardholders at key bus stops, transport centres, schools and tertiary institutes from Monday 2 May including selected bus stops for central routes operated by North Star. The central suburbs routes operated by North Star include a number of 005, 035, 233, 605 and 606 services.

  • Crusader

    I hear the company providing the new integrated ticketing system in Christchurch and the company who supplied most of the old bus equipment in Auckland are both having their on board machines tested against the Thales standard. Hopefully that gives non NZ Bus operators a choice. I can’t imagine operators wanting their data to go through the Snapper system!

    • Matt L

      Thales also have their own equipment solution for buses so there should be plenty of alternatives for the other bus companies.

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