In just a few short weeks the real HOP card card rolls out to the rail network. At platforms people may have seen the ticket machines which can be used to purchase single tickets and also will be used to top up HOP cards and they may have also seen the the tag posts at the various entry points. Further if people visit either Britomart or Newmarket it is now pretty much impossible to miss the fare gates that have been installed. To make sure the system is all working Auckland Transport is running a pilot programme and I have been lucky enough to be part of that so have been able to have a go at using the system and I thought I would share my thoughts:
I’ll start with topping up as that is what you are going to have to do before you use your card. The screen on the top up machine tells you to place the card into the reader which is seems simple enough but the natural instinct is to insert it like you would on a credit card. AT are apparently planning on placing some more stickers on the machines to make this clearer. In this case however the slot is like a little tray that you just sit the card in and doing so automatically takes you to a screen to select what you would like to do, as shown below.
I just wanted to put some money on the card so I selected HOP money top-up and you are then presented with a range of preset amounts or you can chose your own. It is worth noting that there is a 25c top up fee which is the same as the Snapper HOP cards. The HOP card details also lets you check the balance and see your transaction history.
After picking the amount you want it takes you straight to the payment screen which is the same as for purchasing a single paper ticket. All up a very quick and easy process with perhaps the only suggestion would have been to make the buttons on the product selection page a bit bigger.
Using the card for Travel
Using the card is incredibly quick and easy, I made a little video showing me tagging on and off and as you can see it works equally well either in or out of my wallet.
I found the posts really quick and responsive. It is a bit hard to see but the amount of the trip is shown as having been deducted on the screen along the the remaining balance. About the only odd thing I have come across, and I hope it is only to do with the pilot, is that the literature that came with the card said the penalty fare for not tagging was equivalent to a 4 stage fare which means anyone like me who is 5 stages or more from their destination is better off not tagging off. I assume that Auckland Transport will change that before going live.
All up the whole thing was very easy which is great. My only gripe is that the machines themselves are often not working. For a few days in a row one of the machines at my local station wasn’t working properly while the other one has been wrapped up in plastic for over a month after being vandalised. I have also witnessed and had reports of a number of other stations where the machines simply aren’t working so this is something that AT will really need to both sort out and get on top of quickly. If they can get the machine issues sorted out then I think the system will be great.