One day I’d really love to write a post about the Hop Card which wasn’t dominated by the utter incompetence of those involved in its introduction. Unfortunately, today is not one of those days.
On Monday sales of the new AT HOP card went live (apparently) and from October 27th (this coming Saturday) you will be able to start using your AT HOP card on the rail system. According to the new AT HOP website, the cards can now be purchased for $10, or for a limited (unspecified) time for $5.
There is a one-off non-refundable cost of $10. However there is a limited promotional period from 22 October where cards will be sold for $5 (that’s half the price of the normal card cost)
As I already have a HOP card (or, as people are starting to call the cards of the HOP/Snapper variety, a “SNOP” card) the idea of forking out more money for a card doesn’t particularly take my fancy so I was happy to read the following buried deep in the FAQs for the AT HOP card:
If I have a HOP bus card do I get a free AT HOP card?
Yes. If you travel on trains and buses you will need to have both the old purple HOP and an AT HOP card. From 22 October free AT HOP cards will be issued to train users who also use the bus. You will need to fill in the form. Terms and conditions apply.
It’d be nice if this was advertised a bit more clearly, but good that there’s a process to enable current SNOP card users to get a free version of the AT HOP card.
Where things get a bit more confusing, and poorly planned in my opinion, relates to your average rail user and how they’re meant to get a hold of this new AT HOP card and put money on it. For a start, the cards are only being sold in a stupidly small number of locations. More from the FAQs:
Where can I get an AT HOP card and when is it available?
From the week commencing 22nd October you will be able to get an AT HOP card from Ticket Offices located at Britomart, Newmarket, New Lynn and Papakura train stations and from sales staff within the rail network.
Let’s just hope there are a whole heap of sales staff on and around the rail network over the next week. Otherwise the queues for cards in these four locations will be eye-watering. I might have to pop down to Britomart during the evening peak to check out the queues.
Where things start to get really hopeless though is in relation to topping up your brand new AT HOP card. You’d think that you might want to get some money loaded up onto it straight away when you purchase it over the next week, so things are ready to go from Saturday onwards. If that was your plan, it seems like you’re out of luck:
How do I load money onto the AT HOP card?
It is easy to load funds onto your AT HOP card to enable you to travel. We call funds loaded onto your card HOP money.
You will be able to do this at Ticket & Top-Up machines located at every rail station, at Ticket Offices at Britomart, Newmarket and New Lynn or online from 27 October.
How do I load a monthly rail pass onto the AT HOP card?
It is easy to load a monthly pass onto your AT HOP card to enable you to travel.
You will be able to do this online or at Ticket & Top-Up machines located at every rail station, at Ticket Offices at Britomart, Newmarket and New Lynn or online from 27 October.
I have highlighted on bold the key date. Remember that you can buy the card now, but not top it up until Saturday. How crazy is that? This will mean especially long queues at Britomart next week I would imagine.
I get really frustrated by stuff like this because it should be so easy to get right. Make the provision of free AT HOP cards for those with existing SNOP cards easy. Start selling the AT HOP cards at all the retail outlets currently selling SNOP scards. For goodness sake let people put money on their new cards and then make damn well sure the rail network is crawling with people who can sell the cards or show people how to top them up at stations for the next few weeks. This stuff isn’t hard and this is a $110 million project. We need to get this right.
You can top up your AT HOP card at machines now (even though the FAQs say you can’t). And I’ve updated the link to get your free AT HOP card if you have any current bus pass so it’s now correct.