Tomorrow is going to be a pretty historic day for the rail network, for probably the first time ever there will be a change to how ticketing is done for trains in Auckland. In anticipation of the roll out of integrated ticketing in at the end of October, on-board ticket sales are being phased out so that regular users can start to get used to to buying their tickets before getting on the train. The ticket machines that started popping up a few months ago will be used to do this although there will be staff on platforms to assist people if they need it. For a few more weeks on-board sales will still be possible which I guess is to ease people into it. 10 trip tickets will also no longer be able to be brought on the trains and can only be purchased from the ticket offices however after Hop goes live they will phased out all together.
With the machines ready to go and reports of some people already using them, I decided to pop down to my local station to have a go at using it and to document it for the blog. The first thing you will notice is that the machines have now been dressed up with various labels to make them easier to use, I think they are quite tidy and not over the top which is good.
As you can see above the screens are active so here is what the initial screen looks like up close. You will notice that you can select the language to be either English or Maori, hopefully in future we might see a few other languages included.
As I don’t have an AT HOP card yet I selected ‘Purchase Ticket(s)’ and was then presented with a screen to select my destination. You can either scroll through the lists by using the arrows on the right or use the keyboard to start typing the name of it. The screen felt really responsive which was good and the stations displayed changed immediately as soon as you pushed a letter. I also like how the unneeded letters are greyed out.
This station selection screen is also where my gripes are though. The first is just from a design point of view, I wonder if it would have been easier to make things a version of the network map which you can select your destination from. Much more of a concern is that you can only select stations on the line you are travelling on. I tried selecting Ellerslie and other southern line stations, all of which are listed in the machine yet it wouldn’t allow it, giving me giving the error screen below. This indicates that passengers transferring lines will need to get off the train at their transfer point (Britomart or Newmarket) and then go and find a machine to purchase another ticket. That is absolutely stupid as even with our current silly fare structure that penalises transfers it would be simple to work out that a transfer will take place and adjust the price accordingly.
After you have successfully selected a station to travel to you are presented with another screen to let you select just how many tickets you want to purchase. While I didn’t try it, it appears that you can select any combination of tickets which is good. I also wonder if the Super gold card tickets will be hidden during the morning peak when they aren’t valid?
After you have selected how many tickets you want it is time to pay, there is a pinpad and slot for Eftpos/Credit cards so I assume it was just turned off for the time being, hopefully it is sorted by tomorrow morning. Having that as a payment option now is great though, especially for those new to the network who may not have cash on them. One thing to note is that the machines will not give out change for more than $20 as the change will all be in coins, if someone does happen to put in a large note with which the change will be more than $20 then the machine will print them a claim receipt. They will need to take that receipt to Britomart to get their refund however the ticket offices at Newmarket and New Lynn will be able to do it at a later date.
Now as I wasn’t actually travelling I didn’t proceed to purchase a ticket however Geoff on the CBT forums did the other day and this is what they look like. The on-board staff clipped the one on the right but they don’t need to as the ticket is actually valid for two hours from the time printed on it.
Overall the machines were pretty simple and easy to use which is great. It is worth point out that apparently the machines out south won’t be operational tomorrow as they require repairs following significant vandalism of them, hopefully AT can find a way to minimise this from happening in the future. It won’t be a good look if people can’t purchase tickets due to some idiot thinking it is a good idea to destroy the machine, they also can’t be cheap to continually replace or repair.