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Photo of the Day: Tagging post congestion

New Lynn yesterday afternoon. Gating can’t come quick enough not only to combat fare evasion but also to smooth passenger flows. Not at rush hour and only one train disembarking.

NEW LYNN_2929

 

65 comments to Photo of the Day: Tagging post congestion

  • George D

    Goodness yes. In the meantime – more posts at every station!

  • I see the even that is a relatively improved situation – last time I was there, only one tag post stood there (another was hidden *behind* the escalator). When’d that one go in?

  • Malcolm M

    Looks like a minimal build mentality, from the days when only a few used trains and pedestrian congestion was rarely a problem. Perhaps with gating as a proposed project the minimal build solution was seen as a stop-gap. But what happens if one of those tagging posts malfunctions and all these people need to queue for a single post ? Passengers would feel justified in not tagging and travelling for free, for example if a train is approaching and it’s a choice of travelling on this train for free vs tagging and waiting for the next train. Respect for the system would begin to break down.

  • exaucklanderindydney

    Still can’t understand why they’re prioritising Manukau over New Lynn

  • Ellerslie is my local station, and the number of people disembarking from evening services results in queues. The orientation and location of the posts is also daft, with the sensors and screens on the outside of the natural path towards the stairs and ramp (opposite ends of the platform). Means that people have to split out around the posts and then funnel back in to leave instead of a natural line straight to the exit. People who aren’t regulars (myself included) will often start to walk the natural line and then realise we can’t use the posts from our current orientation so have to break our stride and butt into the queue of people waiting to tag off.

    • Glen

      Matt, not to mention the Ellerslie tag posts at the northern end are strategically located open to the elements between the shelter and the (covered) stairs. It’s not much fun waiting for the tag post in the rain.

      It’s almost as if AT is trying to tempt people not to pay…

    • Luke E

      Matt, you must be in the very first or last carriage a lot of the time if that’s happening. Ellerslie is also my local station, and I hardly ever find I’m closer to the exit than I am the tag post. I don’t think they could be much closer to the stairs or ramp without getting in the way of them for people who are exiting without tagging (i.e. those with (hopefully) a paper ticket).
      I do agree that it’s frustrating they’re not under cover. Why the cover isn’t the whole length of the platform astounds me. It’s also frustrating the real time board is only on one of the shelters, but that’s another story…

    • The positioning of the tag posts is interesting to say the least – recently an additional one was put in at Meadowbank, but in such an obscure spot less than 10% of passengers use it.

  • Explain to me again why we cant have tag posts on trains? I mean, if it can work for buses that do zig zagging routes with small stops, why cant it work on the train?

    Then if I am travelling from Newmarket and want to get off at, say, Ellerslie, I can tag off any time after the train pulls out of Remuera station. No?

    • That would just bring in a different set of issues. E.g. 300+ people disembarking from the trains at Britomart would put a lot of strain on on-board tag posts. There is also the risk of trains being held/delayed to accommodate people tagging on/off as frequently happens on buses. Also having to tag on/off for each journey (like on buses) wouldn’t be favorable too.

      I do see your point though, it’s just when I look at the big picture I think AT (and most other overseas operators too) have made the right decision that works efficiently most of the time.

      • But why not have both? So you either tag off on the train or at the gate. If you have already tagged off on the train at the right time (so for Britomart, after leaving Orakei/Newmarket), the gate just lets you through. Unless we gate all stations we have the issue you outline now.

        But in Continental Europe, they take two approaches on Metros – 1. Gate all stations (most places) 2. Have no gates but heaps of inspectors who will bust you (Prague).

        Auckland is taking neither of those two approaches. The best by far is the second one, especially for buses as passengers just flood on and off. But we need to have a lot more inspectors and they need to have real powers.

        Also, based on Prague, a bad attitude and big leather jackets.

        The lack of ID cards does actually make it more difficult in NZ as not carrying an ID card is an offence in most European countries. Or you have to turn up to a police station within a certain amount of time with it.

        When I lived in London (’98/99) there was a similar situation to Auckland where there were quite a few ungated stations but they always had actual people there at peak times. There was also a lot of evasion at those stations. The last place we want to copy is the UK for PT.

        One thing that would really help with evasion is a cheap annual pass ($1,000?) for all PT. And the ability for employers to buy these for employees without FBT (just like unallocated parking).

        • The Auckland system isn’t a metro though. I see it more of a suburban railway and I’ve been to countries (UK, Spain and Australia) which seem to follow a similar approach to Auckland — i.e. gate the major stations and use a honesty system approach for smaller stations. I would be interested in examples of overseas suburban system with similar sizes to Auckland where they gate every station as I haven’t come across these in my travels. I agree though there needs to be a lot more ticket inspections though. I’ve only had my tickets checked once in the last week or two which I think is a bit slack. :(

        • Well how would tagging off on the train then work at gated stations? Remember there is a plan to progressively gate the major stations, New Lynn included. This is surely the long term fix.

          • As above: If you have already tagged off on the train at the right time (so for Britomart, after leaving Orakei/Newmarket), the gate just lets you through. Unless we gate all stations we have the issue you outline now.

            If the software isnt smart enough to figure that out, then they bought dud software.

          • bbc

            Do you know of any other systems that utilise this? I know Freiburg has machine to buy tickets on many of their trams, and many other German cities allow you to validate the ticket upon boarding, but none of them require people to tag on and off again. I can just imagine the confusion it would generate with people holding the doors open to allow them to tag off, fearing they’d pay a penalty fare.

  • I use this station every second day and I wonder if people believe they must use the tag post on the side of the platform they disembarked from (even if, as in the picture above, the tags posts are literally right next to each other).

    I came up with this theory yesterday because, due to a broken tag post at Glen Eden, I suggested to someone that they tag on using the post on another platform. Someone butted in saying “you can’t do that, you must tag on on this platform only” or words to that effect. Seasoned travelers will know this is not true, you can tag on/off at any post within the same station regardless of which platform you are traveling from/to.

    I think if passengers distributed themselves evenly between the two tag posts that are available there wouldn’t be too much congestion.

    In any case what I do at New Lynn is that I always use the tag post that gets the least traffic (which is always the tag post nearest the other platform). Often there’s a 10-deep queue for the “correct” tag post while the one literally 2cm next door is queue-less (or at worst I’ve only been behind one or two people) and so I am on my merry way ahead of 10+ other people.

    Perhaps a public information campaign is in order to encourage people to use other tag posts where they are available and not just restricting themselves to whatever is nearest. For example people taking the stairs could consider walking to the stairs and tagging off there (leaving the main posts for people taking the escalators).

    • Silent Arrow

      Tagging off on the “other side” is well used at locations such as Grafton, but there are locations like Kingsland and Avondale where you can’t get to the other side unless you cross the tracks. There are also the options to use the tag post at the less used end of the platform (which is usually the opposite direction of where you want to go). But regardless, there need to be a lot more tag posts at stations whether they are gated or not. If the infrastructure for many users isn’t there, then the amount of users will not increase.

      • Avondale doesn’t really have many passengers to justify even the currently amount of tag spots. I regularly travel between Avondale-New Lynn/Glen Eden. Avondale actually has three tag posts for each platform due to the unusual access requirements at that station (i.e. 3 different entrance/exists due to access being provided to 3 nearby streets). This means currently there is little to no wait time at all to tag on/off even when disembarking off a peak train. This has been the case for the last 8 months I’ve traveled on a regular basis to/from Avondale…

        Kingsland I partly concede as it’s a surprisingly sparse station for one that is used for Eden Park games. There should really be a few more tag posts there. However thinking about this a but more, perhaps the fact most people travel on a match ticket makes it pointless adding more tag posts since a large number of travelers will be using their paper match tickets rather than AT HOP cards. When games are not on then the current numbers are sufficient from my experience.

        • Silent Arrow

          It doesnt have 3 tag posts on each side. . The west bound side might.. but ive only seen two for each side. And perhaps you haven’t seen it at rush hours. With commuters, uni students and high school students all using the tag spots it can get a bit jammed.

          With kingsland, my thoughts were that even with match tickets and gating it would be easier tofunnel and cobtrol movement onto the platform reducing the risk of over crowding. However the excess people would remain on the surrounding srreets so maybe it’s not such a good idea xD

  • Steve D

    That’s insane. Relatively quiet Kingsland has 5 tag posts on the westbound platform and it still gets decent queues in rush hour. How anyone thought TWO would be enough for New Lynn is incomprehensible.

    • To be fair there are at least four at New Lynn. At the western end there is one near the stairs and two near the escalators (which is pictured); and on the city end there is one (or two, I can’t recall exactly how many).

  • simon

    Not to mention the irritation if having to walk to the midway point of the station (e.g Glen Eden) in order to top up and then walk back to the entry to tag on….

    • Peter

      Yeah I had the same problem at Avondale on the citybound side. Don’t know why they couldn’t include one near the machine for convenience and safety of those topping up out of negative balance. Also another thing with new lynn is its a pain in the neck having to walk all the way down the end of the platform to topup if the kiosk is closed or if you wish to top-up less than $10.

      • JimboJones

        Why would you ever top up when you can set it up online to happen automatically?

        • Well some of us pay for monthly passes which we prefer to do at a machine to ensure the pass is applied straight away (unlike the online lottery). It’s a minor quibble but quite valid given the distance between the top-up machines and the tag posts at some stations. Another argument is that I recently I nearly forgot to tag on when I added my pass. I didn’t think that I needed to tag on after adding the pass onto the card until just before the train arrived. Having the tag post next to the machine would serve as a useful visual reminder for people to tag on after adding money or a pass to their card.

        • Peter

          No thanks, no auto top-up for me, my hop card was disabled for “failed changes” and I argued this as none of them failed and I even provided proof, they accepted this but said “there is no way to access our database to re-enable cards, which is… a load of shit, I work in IT and have never heard of a database that is not accessible. I am now using monthly passes but back when I was a student that was not viable as with a concession I paid less per month then the cost of a zone A pass. Plus as for other people, not everyone has access to the internet or trusts making payments over the internet (especially the elderly, such as my parents). Also as for James’s comment, I have also found myself almost forgetting to tag on after topping up/loading a pass, since its kinda built-in to most of us that once we have paid money – that we have actually paid for the service, so yeah… easy to forget sometimes lol.

          • This is a huge issue that I just don’t see AT taking seriously. My son has had two HOP cards blocked for ‘failed charges’ requiring the purchase of new cards each time. The failures are the result of some issue between the bank and the HOP system yet the teenage HOP user gets whacked. In neither case can anyone explain why the top-ups failed.

            This is crap and not good enough and in the end is AT’s problem. Blaming the system they are responsible for does not absolve them of need to fix it.

          • conan

            Same, had a blocked card, would never use the auto top up system as it currently stands.

  • And to think, the old system had no issues at all with boarding or disembarking. What a waste of money for zero gain.

    • No gain? Good grief what nonsense; perhaps you never catch a bus, but hundreds of thousands of us do and there the card has hugely improved boarding. And perhaps you never transfer between routes, well many of us do that too and we are all very much looking forward to the fare integration that the card enables. Anyway, the spread of gating will sort the congestion issues at major stations. And I’m not complaining about busy new stations, they are way preferable to the crappy and unused old system you seem so nostalgic for.

      • This post is about train ticketing, not buses. We went from a carefree ticketing system where you didn’t have to do anything before or after boarding, to one where you have to line up or go through the hassle of frequently encountering machines that don’t work.

        There’s absolutely no doubt we are worse off now.

        • bbc

          We went from a system where we had to carry cash and think about how far we were going to go, to one where you hop on and off trains without having to think about it. It’s also highly relevant to buses as it enables an integrated system, as you are well aware. The ability for me to now catch whatever bus comes past, regardless of the operator, has been a absolutely huge improvement. So no, for everyone else, except you, the system is better. The only thing there’s absolutely no doubt about is you dislike it, that doesn’t mean ‘we’ are worse off, as I’m clearly better off. So change your last sentence to “There‚Äôs absolutely no doubt I think I am worse off now”……

        • Stu Donovan

          there’s absolutely no doubt you’re wrong.

          As evidenced by the surge in patronage since the fill HOP rollout has been completed.

          • You mean resumption of patronage growth as per pre-HOP, after a fall-back caused by the introduction of HOP, which cannot be denied when you look at the direct correlation of the fall-back and HOP introduction.

    • Get a hop card Geoff. You may long for the days of an army of gentlemen with caps and leather satchels to run the ticketing but we can’t afford that.

      • I’ve had a HOP card for 18 months.

        Can’t afford the staff? First of all, most of those staff are still there, just poorly utilised. Secondly, the huge security issues that have eventuated by removing those staff from prominant view will eventually see a team of security guards employed. It’s inevitable. Thirdly, if stations are ever gated, you’ll need two staff per station, which for three shifts a day x 40 stations is 240 staff just to man the gates, and that’s assuming one set of gates per platform.

        The old system was cheaper by a mile Nick. There will no staff savings from HOP.

    • Bryan

      “the old system had no issues at all with boarding or disembarking” – apart from the frequent wait for the guard to finish selling tickets before he/she opened the doors.

  • Dave

    Hard to imagine any regular user of public transport to feel that way. The AT Hop system feels far easier to use than the old one.

    If you do long for the old method, it’s still there. Just pay at the machine and board. Even that’s easier.

    • Nope, because it takes longer. You have to show up earlier to pay, and that’s if the machine is working which it often isn’t. Under the old system you just boarded without doing anything. Payment activities were on travel time.

      • dan c

        New system is much easier. I just turn up and tag on. No ‘waiting to pay’. No queuing to get cash out of the atm every week.

      • Dave

        The machines “often aren’t” working? So you aren’t a regular user, then.

        “Payment is on travel time”. I guess you never had to approach a collector outside the train to pay your fare because they were unable to on board due to the amount of people jammed on there. I guess you never had to wait for the collector to return with your change because they’d run out when you paid.

        The current system is far more efficient. If turning up a few minutes before boarding to pay at a machine is difficult, then that issue is on the user, not the system.

        • Correct, in 20 years of travel I never had those issues. From no issues before or after boarding, to line ups as per the photo, machines that don’t accept payment and a significantly deteriorating security situation from lack of visible staff. That’s not progress.

          • Well Geoff you keep paying in shillings, or whatever your curious preference is, and the rest of us will use the much more convenient and efficient card and pocket the 20% discount.

          • Why Patrick? I use a HOP card thanks. Shillings? How old are you???

            You appear unable to separate topic and person? Stick to the topic and quit making it personal.

  • Adam

    Pukekohe only has one tag station near the main exit, there is always a major que of at least a minute during peak times, you are lucky to have two.

  • Part of the problem is unnecessary delays in user interaction.

    Many people wait for the LED to go out for the previous person’s tag before tagging themselves – this is unnecessary and adds about 1.5 seconds per transaction. When 50 people are all using one post, that means those at the back of the line can be delayed up to a minute and a half. This is both on buses and at stations.

    Also, some people seem to think the world will end if their card actually touches the reader, so carefully position it in the air near to but not touching the reader – this is significantly slower than just slapping the card against the reader.

    Thirdly, the transaction is complete as soon as the green LED has lit. But inexplicably the readers have a delay in-between lighting the green LED and emitting a beep – again, this slows things down as people wait for the beep.

    Perhaps AT should create some posters and flyers for “Tips for fast and reliable tagging on and off”, and fix the delay in-between the LED and the beep. Those two changes should speed things up significantly.

    • Silent Arrow

      While these are issues, the tech itself could provide faster feedback for the user. Japan has a similar card reader and while their PT far outstrips ours, as soon as the ‘tag’ is registered it provides feedback with a beep/written text which allows the queue to move alot faster. There have been times I have removed my card too early when I saw the green light however it just hadnt disappeared from the previous user.

    • Peter

      I’m quite tall so I end up just waiting for the beep as opposed to bending my neck to see if the lights gone off or not, if there was an initial beep for read and then a diff beep for ur concession type/or declined balance that would be much more helpful. Also if they added a low balance warning like “Please check your balance” or “low balance” etc that would be very helpful, snapper had this, also perhaps a concession expiring soon warning would be helpful.

  • Silent Arrow

    The new system needs a lot of inprovement still but I personally prefer not to have to carry cash, and if I lose my card I can get any money still on it transferred to a new one which is great and saves me money. The only problem comes with people who have to use the topup/ticket machines before catching the train, or those stations where the tag post is not close enough when running for the train

  • mfwic

    You seriously have to queue up and do something at this post?

  • Chris Werry (@chriswerry)

    I love my hop card. I no longer have to scrabble around for change or buy a packet of chewing gum to break a $20 note or guess how much the fare is and worry if I will have enough. It’s set and forget and just works. Knowing I can catch any bus, ferry, train I feel like and have the “correct change” is luxury. Now all I need now is some bus lanes…

    • Most people just had a small piece of cardboard they show to the ticket validator. No different holding onto that than an AT HOP card, but easier to use (no tagging on/off to remember or line up for). The truth is AT HOP wasn’t about convenience, it was an attempt to lower staff costs, but that outcome doesn’t appear to have eventuated, and the security issues will probably ultimately lead to higher staff costs than pre-HOP. My guess is that most EMU services will have four staff onboard in future. Driver, guard and two security/ticket validators.

      • Peter

        Well you would still have to carry cash, something I never do and/or line up in a usually massive queue during peak at very limited locations to get multi-journey tickets, unless you had like a discovery pass or something.

      • bbc

        What rubbish Geoff, for those of us that caught the train infrequently we always had to carry cash. In fact I catch the train a lot more now simply because I don’t have to worry about having cash with me. I never bought a 10 trip pass for the train, just something else to lose. Having a single card that works across all modes is clearly better. Of course the odd person who was stuck in their routine and ways may not like change, but unfortunately change happens. In this case whilst a small minority such as yourself are inconvenienced a huge number of new users are happy to take your place and start using trains and buses because of the simplicity and ease that is now offered by AT-HOP.

        • You’ve lost the plot me thinks – as I said, I have and use a HOP card. It is not I that have pointed out the issues with the new system, it’s THIS blog, as per the photo showing the dysfunctional tag off system. Since the old system didn’t have that issue, I’m correct in pointing out it was a negative. Why put up a photo of tag post congestion if criticism of the system responsible for that congestion is unwelcome? The fact is, we went from a system where users boarded and disembarked without issue, to a system where issues exist. That isn’t progress.

          • bbc

            I haven’t lost the plot, I’m disagreeing with the idea that one inherent aspect of the system, that you have to tag off as well as on, doesn’t mean the whole system is bad. On the whole it’s a massive improvement. It would be great if tagging off wasn’t required, however, I’d much rather do that than have to pre-calculate my fare and make sure I’ve got cash every time I go to catch a train or bus.

    • Dave

      I don’t consider fumbling around for and presenting a piece of progressively degrading cardboard to be easier than pressing my wallet against a scanner as I walk past.

      Waiting to tag off – yes, it’s an odd quirk, but hardly one that brings the whole system down. At least, in my own opinion. This issue is also one that could be easily eliminated through the introduction of additional tag posts, or (in cases such as Henderson) simply rearranging the things.

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