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A closer look at Simplified Fares

On Monday Auckland Transport launched consultation for an amended Regional Public Transport Plan and that included a large section on integrated fares – or Simplified Fares as AT call them. Since writing the post AT have released a lot more information about their Simplified fares proposal so I thought I was worth while addressing the topic in more detail.

A key point on simplified fares is that you are charged based on your journey, not what services you use – with the exception of ferries. They define a journey as

  • up to 3 trips on buses or trains,
  • up to two transfers, as long as you tag on within 30 minutes of tagging off your previous service,
  • complete your travel within 2 hours.

Simplifed Fares Journey description

And example they give is someone who might travel from Albany to Newmarket taking a bus and a train. Currently it would be treated as two trips and be charged two sets of fares – albeit with a 50c transfer discount. Under Simplified Fares it would be a single journey and only charged a single fare.

Following the introduction of Simplified Fares it will be interesting to see is how they report on patronage and if they change to reporting journeys or if they just keep reporting boardings – preferably they’ll report both.

The zones AT are proposed are as I showed the other day.

RPTP Integrated Fares Zones Map

As mentioned at the time I think a little more work is needed on the zone boundaries, perhaps having all of them them overlap by 1-1.5km on all boundary lines to help address the issue of short journeys across a boundary being penalised heavily. As an example (below) the 195 and 209 services currently travel down Godley Rd in Green bay and then on and through Blockhouse Bay. If someone was to get on the bus on Godley Rd and travel to Blockhouse Bay they would have to pay a two zone fare.

Simplifed Fares Isthmus-West boundary

Another alternative would be for AT to introduce a short journey fare which is how the issue is dealt with in some other cities – such as Perth.

There’s one other feature on the map that’s bound to cause some concern and complaint and that is the boundary of the city zone compared to the current stage one zone. This appears to affect just south of Mt Eden and Orakei train station and is indicated on the map below with a black dotted circle. It means trips from those locations to the city will now pay a two zone fare whereas they current pay just a single stage fare. Depending on the fare levels AT set that could see costs for those users almost double.

Simplifed Fares Isthmus - Mt Eden&Orakei

One aspect of the information that has surprised me is that AT have given an indication as to the prices they’ll charge for the zones. The indicative fare table is below.

Simplifed Fares Prices

It seems most passengers will be better off with the changes – or at least pay roughly the same as they do now which is a good result from AT. They describe the main impact of the changes as:

  • Commuters to and from the city to pay similar fares
  • Longer distance trips to be cheaper
  • Trips across zones to be substantially cheaper
  • A small increase for short trips

For me a trip to town using HOP would drop from 5-stages for $6 to 3-zones for $5. Many other journeys I randomly checked – other than those mentioned above – seem to be in similar situation of becoming cheaper than they are today providing the person is using HOP. Those savings also get much larger compared to today if your trip involves a transfer. AT have a couple of example journeys here including the Albany to Newmarket one mentioned earlier.

It’s a different story if cash is being used and so as I’ve mentioned before, it will be critical that AT look for more ways to get HOP into peoples hands. One suggestion I’ve made in the past would be having bus drivers keep a stash of cards pre-loaded with regular the regular note denominations. If a note is presented they quickly hand over the pre-loaded card and tell the person to tag on and their change will be on the card.

AT have given some more detail about their plans for other fare products such as daily/monthly passes. There will be a single daily and monthly pass priced at $18 and $200 respectively. By comparison currently those passes have a zone based element to them which means there are some lower priced monthly pass options if you aren’t travelling as far. It would be a shame to see those lower priced monthly passes disappear so perhaps AT should look at something like a two-zone pass which as the name suggests is restricted to travelling through two zones.

The issues with ferry fares sitting outside of the rest of the fare system are not new however as happens now AT say ferry travel will be included in the future daily pass. That’s good but it seems that at the at the very least AT should also include ferry travel in the monthly passes. AT have also said they want to introduce ferry monthly passes and family passes.

Overall I think the changes are positive and for most will be cheaper and easier than what exists today. That should be useful for further growing patronage. It’s just a shame they we won’t see them implemented till mid-2016.

110 comments to A closer look at Simplified Fares

  • David B.

    I’m absolutely dismayed that ferry users are locked out – I’ve been waiting years for this to happen and they’ve let us all down.

    • Trundler

      Totally agree. Ferries are part of the PT system, so should have been included. This is a real disappointment for those of us who live near ferry wharfs but don’t work in the CBD (i.e. need to transfer onto a train when we get to Britomart). Currently doing this by PT costs more than running a car.

    • aucklanderinaus

      The reality is, ferry services do cost a lot more to operate and subsidize. Would you be happy for AT to increase fares for train and bus users to cover this extra expense to them? Or the other option, AT cuts spending on other projects to pay for the extra ferry subsidy? The money has to come from somewhere…….
      Ferry travel is a premium service

      • Stranded on the North Shore

        Sorry, ferry travel is not a premium service. It’s only Fullers who’s brainwashing people to believe that. If the ferry travel was premium, it wouldn’t take 10 minutes to board, disembark and ferry services wouldn’t be cancelled on a regular yet unpredictable manner. Sorry “premium travel” is not on Auckland ferries, whatever they make you believe.

        Hong Kong and Vancouver (and probably a lot more cities – Sydney?) can do with ferries in an integrated fashion, so all we need is a government that doesn’t interfere with a proper process.

  • Garth Houltham

    Was there any mention of a Sunday family fare?

  • Damian

    I’m looking forward to this – it’s much simpler to understand and encourages people to use PT especially where a transfer is required.

  • The ferries need to be included. They are in all other cities around the world. Why does Auckland think it is special in that regard?

    • Ricardo

      Probably down to who owns which transport modes and discussions over share of ticket value. Suspect will be sorted eventually.

    • BBC

      Ask Fullers and National why they believe legislating to prevent Ferries having to be part of integrated fares and maximising a private companies profits is more important that a logical and easy to use PT system for Aucklanders.

      • David B.

        While I agree with you to some extent, what you refer to is just the underlying contracts and is for AT and Fullers to sort out in the background. As users of public transport we should be able to tag on at the start of a journey and tag off at the end just like everybody else. HOP cards make this easy to implement immediately, and the dealing that AT and Fuller need to do should be done behind the scenes without impacting passengers.

      • Steve

        I’ve wondered if we get around the neo-liberal blockade of community transport ownership by seeing up a private trust that owns buses, rains, ferries – whatever – and in the deed of trust we specify the Mayor and elected Councilors – those who accept, of course, are too be trustees. They can buy or sell buses or whatever, as they please. Donations from ratepayers via the Council gratefully received for this purpose.

  • nonsense

    -up to 3 trips on buses or trains,
    -up to two transfers, as long as you tag on within 30 minutes of tagging off your previous service,
    -complete your travel within 2 hours.

    and this is simple? what if your next service is delayed or cancelled, will you get penalized because they didn’t have train drivers to roster?

    • Ricardo

      Have to agree. In the desire to catch out the small number of cheats complexity has again been thrown in the mix. To keep life really simple it should be a period of time – i.e. mornings or afternoons, or better still – daily. Policing would be much easier and disputes would be minimized. 2 hours? With breaks between modes? Leaves open to a lot of angst amongst travelers. The majority of people would not sit on transport all day just to get their ‘money’s worth’. And as for those who share their passes (why the rules are there presumably) – very complicated and not worth the effort – so minimal abuse there.

      • JimboJones

        I guess the problem with a larger time window is the potential for people to get a return trip for the price of a single which could happen reasonably frequently – although you could potentially handle this with a bit of logic.
        Agree that the other stipulations aren’t required and just add complexity – why make excessive / confusing rules just to prevent a very small number of people getting a free trip?
        It would be nice and simple if they only charged by the number of zones you enter in a day – but I imagine the fares would have to be about double those proposed which would suck if you are doing a single trip.

        • Ricardo

          Truth is, would a larger window and the chance for some to ‘score’ a free trip every now and then be a real issue? Isn’t the whole point f the exercise to get more people on PT, more income, more expansion, more people, more income, more expansion and so on? The wonderful evolving circle?

    • Nick R

      Why not just make it unlimited travel within the zone/s for two hours. Super simple and a great product to market.

      The amount of people who would make more than three trip legs and/or take transfers of longer than 30 mins within two hours could be counted on one hand by a clumsy lumberjack.

      Why bother? Keep it simple and if a few people get a bonus then so be it, we get more people using PT!

    • Chris

      +1. Or what if the second service is just crap? Like the time I had to transfer from the train to the 007 on a Sunday and had to wait nearly an hour.

    • RJ

      why just 2? are the saying the max transfer will be 2 with the new system? coz some people may have to transfer 3 times

  • Waspman

    Some good parts, expecially the multi mode trips but the price hike to Orakei is not good. The cynic in me sees this as an attempt to recover unpaid fares from Britomart for all the people who buy the base Orakei fare to get through the gates but then go much further on the network. And there will be winners and losers with fewer stages.

  • Jono

    I think they should have a look at how London does it, it seems to work well for them. They also have a daily cap for either off-peak and anytime zones 1-2 anytime and offpeak is £6.40 which is roughly $13 and goes up from there depending on how many zones you travel through.

  • Dan C

    Why no zonal monthly passes? If one big zone is good enough for monthlies, why not keep it really simple and do away with zones altogether. One fixed fee per trip. Simple.

    Otherwise the monthly pass is priced way too low for someone in pukekoe, and way too high for someone on the isthmus. E.g monthly = 48/ week vs 2 zone return trip to work 3* 2 * 5 = 30. Over 50% more expensive for the monthly.

    And why have them at all? Just have daily and weekly zone based caps. Jyst like London has.

  • I still think this is the wrong approach in principle, but obviously I’ve not done any detailed (or un-detailed) analysis.

    I’m a big fan of km based charging – Amsterdam is base rate + per km (http://en.gvb.nl/saldo) – the base rate is not charged again for transfers within 35 minutes.

    As a CBD dweller I’m pretty tired of getting abused by Inner Link pricing – now it looks like the entire city zone is $1.70/80. It will cost me the same to get from Britomart to Parnell as it does to get from Westgate to New Lynn, Army Bay to Silverdale, Blockhouse bay to St Helliers or Beachhaven to Devonport. One more way the people with the lowest impact on the city’s infrastructure, environment and costs are punished – subsiding the people making the biggest impacts and costing the most.

    I understand that we need to incentivise the suburbs to get out of their cars – so do that, but there is no need to gouge the people who decided to live in ways that already achive this. The city zone should be free, or close to it – that would get more cars off the road than any changes in whangaparoa.

    /Edit or just build some [expletive] bike lanes in the city zone

    • JimboJones

      The reason for the high prices in the city is because that is where the majority of the congestion occurs and where the majority of the PT budget is spent. Have a look at London’s zone fare system and count yourself lucky – the city zone is significantly more expensive there.

      • I won’t argue that London has Zone 1 and that more expensive than other zones, but the zone covers a vast amount of ‘things’ you could live your life inside Zone 1. It’s also geographically twice as large.

        Congestion downtown does not impact bus lanes or trains. Charging higher transit rates because of greater traffic congestion is inconsistent with the stated goals of Auckland Transit.

        In what way are you suggesting that the CBD gets the bulk of spending? All these projects are CBD focussed? https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/

    • unaha-closp

      Its where demand is highest and people living there are less than likely to have a car. Residents are a captive market and we have a monopoly.

    • aucklanderinaus

      You’ve got to be kidding. Feeling ‘abused’ for paying a paltry fare of $1.70?! That is actually very cheap compared to a lot of other cities, as Auckland fares are very cheap for short journeys (although not for longer trips). You may be traveling lesser distances, but the trade off is that you are getting FAR superior service and transport options when you live centrally compared to many others.
      I have no sympathy for city dwellers (I’m one too) complaining about fares

      • The link cost a full stage fare while any other bus completed the same journey for $0.50.

        I don’t understand arguments that I am paying for a superior public transit option – if there are 5 busses going up symonds street to different destinations this is a result of the requirements of the spread out nature of their respective destinations – not some special downtown provision. If there were 0 people living downtown these routes would still exist.

      • And I’m talking relative costs – I’m aware what transit costs in other cities – my complaint is not what it costs me, but that I am subsidising the choices of others – as demonstrated by my examples.

        Vancouver has a very high uptake of transit and they are trying to increase it still – zone 1 here costs slightly more than the difference between it and 2 (and 2-3), but I don’t feel ripped off because a) I can go so much further as it’s a much larger zone and b) have no need to leave zone 1 in most cases due to density allowing services to exist closer to home and c) if I do use transit, most of my trips fit into the 2 hour window a ticket provides, halving the costs as I can get back again for ‘free’ and d) I can bike most places if I want.

        And the entire system is 1 Zone off peak (evenings after 6:30pm and weekends). They are encouraging it’s use, encouraging people to take transit downtown and in the inner suburbs (where congestion is worst…), not adding extra costs to downtown or inner city residents and people coming from the suburbs.

    • nick1234

      Yes as others have said it costs more because demand is higher.

      As someone (like most Aucklanders – now and in the future) who doesn’t live in the CBD, I do take a slight objection to your suggestion that those people who have selflessly chosen to benefit society, and endure self sacrifice by living in the CBD are being discriminated against, compared to us uncaring suburbs dwellers.

      For a start, the reason you live in the CBD is presumably because you like it, and it fits your current needs well. As it has for me in the past. And in the CBD, things are closer to each other, so you don’t need to travel as many km, so a higher cost/km doesn’t hurt you. You’re most certainly not being gouged.

      • You are welcome to take (mild!) offence. I’m not standing as a martyr – I will never live outside a city again by choice, but eventually society will not be able to afford to ignore the externalities of our choices. Unfortunately Auckland doesn’t provide sufficient choices.

        REgardless, high demand is irrelevant – transit is not a service that we should be letting be controlled by supply and demand – transit should be about meeting demand to achieve social and economic outcomes, not pricing people away (where exactly, back to cars?) to control its use.

        • nick1234

          It’s an interesting point, the externalities part. We obviously want people’s behaviour to be influenced in a way that has a more positive effect on society. But I think it’s good to distinguish between,say, trying to reduce demand for sprawl-inducing newly built housing on the edge of town, and demand for established suburbs outside the CBD like, say, Glenfield. There are always going to be people living in these established suburbs – whether it’s me or not makes no difference. If I choose to live there rather than the CBD, it makes no difference whatsoever to the environmental footprint of the city.

  • Stephen

    This note “In the longer term, we are working toward daily and weekly fare caps for AT HOP card users. These caps would replace the daily and monthly passes.” on the proposed fare page looks interesting. If done right it could be a better solution that the currently monthly passes.

    • Given how bloody long it’s taken to get this far, they should have those at the outset. I’ll give them a concession on group pricing due to complexity, but capping fares should not be so hard as to not be an at-launch feature.

    • JimboJones

      Completely agree – I can’t understand why they didn’t get the fares right at the launch of HOP, and even in mid 2016 the fare system will still be significantly compromised with the only cap being a very expensive monthly or daily pass.
      Surely there is a lot of cost with all this tinkering – first they had to implement a complicated stage system on HOP, now they will move to a zone system but with monthly caps, later they will remove monthly caps and bring in weekly – why all the extra confusion and IT costs?
      What has been the hold up? Is it the existing contracts with the bus companies? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to provide a sweetener to the bus companies to change those contracts?

  • Nick Iversen

    Can I travel into the city, stay less than 30 min, then travel home all on the one fare?

  • So no daily/weekly caps? That daily pass is extortionate, and as for monthly…!
    It seems that there has been no interest in learning anything from other cities that have integrated fares systems, because we have: lots of small zones with hard borders, no time-period caps (cf, for example, Melbourne with its AUD7.39 daily cap), no mention of group/family passes, etc etc.

    This looks like the barest possible minimum that can be done to deliver integrated fares without offering anything else to make PT more attractive. It’ll still cost my wife and I $12-ish to take the train to town from Ellerslie on an evening or weekend, for example, which is significantly more than the cost of driving and parking. And once our son is old enough to cost money, the equation skews entirely in a single direction: driving.

    • Monthly makes sense for anyone traveling at least 20 days a month across 3 or more zones. Don’t ever see myself using the daily pass.

      • Monthly makes sense for anyone traveling at least 20 days a month across 3 or more zones.

        Which is a lot of people but probably not a majority of people. And having it be a break-even proposition only if you’re a daily commuter is a very effective way to have just about nobody actually buy them.

        • Completely agree Matt, thats why I have mentioned in the consultation they need a monthly X number of zones pass to complement the all zones pass but at a cheaper price preferably at less or the same cost as the current Zone A pass.

          Tertiary and Child passes need to be price appropriately too.

    • KarlB

      +1

      From personal experience in Melbourne, London etc. a daily fare cap is a simple way to understand the maximum you’ll be paying for a day’s travel. Should be introduced as part of this review – could be based on zones too. London’s is 8 pounds/ day for zones 1-4 (for a much higher level of service). People usually only do 4-5 trips per day max.

      $18 for a daily pass seems much too high – and has the disadvantage of requiring forward planning to buy one at the start of the day.

    • aucklanderinaus

      When you divide it into a weekly amount, it’s about $50 a week for unlimited travel in the whole of Auckland. While it does seem expensive, I don’t think it’s too bad. It could still be better though. It works out especially worthwhile if you live in Pukekohe or outer regions.
      $200 in one go is a lot for many people to afford at once, why don’t the offer equivalent weekly passes at say $50 a week?

      • Rob

        Daily AND weekly AND monthly fare caps are actually easy for people to understand, and should be straightforward to implement with a modern fare system. Means people don’t have to pre-guess their travel a month in advance (and get penalised one way or the other for guessing wrong). Zone and “pass” systems still punish people massively for irregular travel patterns or being anywhere near a boundary.

        Ideally I think the fairest is to charge trip fares based on the crow-flies distance start->end, regardless of any transfers.

      • Sailor Boy

        Seems expensive to me as someone smart enough to live close to the CBD and reduce transport cost for everyone, would have to go to the city and back 30 times for it to pay off.

        AT, this isn’t hard. All trips in one zone contribute towards a cap, then all in a super zone of all adjacent zones contribute towards a bigger cap, then again for all zones. Price them at $100, $150, and $200, simple.

  • jacques charroy

    Think the 30min limit for transfer is too short – it’ll penalise unfairly people whose bus is late or a no show.

    • Yep I’ve waited 2 hours for a transfer to an 060 at Westgate due to the 080 arriving late.

      • RJ

        well hopefully with the new “frequent” network this will not happen and be eliminated

        • Steve

          Agreed. The only way the 30 minute transfer limit is viable is if services are much more frequent than that.

        • Oops nope, the new network is still 2 hour frequency for W79 (if going beyond Huapai), and my destination is usually Waimauku, just a little further down SH16, but thanks to the more direct W2 the chances of me missing the transfer will be reduced. I think 1 hour frequency is bad enough and AT shouldn’t be considering any worse than that on their new network, even if it is somewhere more remote like Hellensville/Waimauku, Waiuku or Proposed Warkworth, the only exception should be 476 Tuakau and 50 Port Waikato as they go out of their allowed scope area (in this case, Waikato Council), if cost is a factor then why not use smaller buses or minivans until patronage grows and is deemed worthwhile for them. But I do understand limiting it… but 30 minutes in the current enviroment is a bit wishful thinking, think full buses, lack of frequency at most places and if there are issues on the rails, harbours or roads etc. But as we can see this is not going ahead until mid-2016 when most of the new network is complete or about to be completed, and they will probably delay it a bit longer as usual…

  • Dan

    I hope they plan on making the thresholds clear by painting bus stops in their respective zone’s colour.

    • That’s a cool idea, especially for those who get off between zones, so they can easily identify if they can get off the stop before and walk a couple of minutes to save a zone! 🙂

  • I for one am still not big on such extreme penalties for paying cash when there are still so many issues with AT HOP.

    Such as:
    – Lack of topup locations compared to Snappers system in most locations. If getting retailers on board is the problem, then why dont they add topup machines near a few bus stops strategically to fill in the gaps, which will also help as they are not restricted to usual operating hours
    – Online topups take 24hrs which is far too long for most people I’ve talked to and doesn’t get used by anyone who doesn’t topup their hop cards with large amounts in advanced, they either go to physical topup points or use auto-topups which still face the below issue
    – Auto-topups still randomly disable hop cards without warning, NO this is not due to card expiration, it happens to quite a few people for no reason at all, and AT just hide behind their “policy” and refuse to refund the balance, heard of this happening to others besides me and again more recently, I for one would like to see some stats from AT in regards to disabled cards, disabled cards just leave people stranded and serves only to anger people and put them back in their cars thanks to extreme cash price, unless they are more forgiving like myself and keep giving AT HOP more chances
    – Ticket machines are out of order frequently and there is sometimes only one machine, e.g. New Lynn and theres no alternative machine etc

    • David B.

      +1

      Not being able to quickly top up online is both annoying and strange. For kids the lack of top-up options is very difficult – they used to be able to top up on the bus but no more for some reason.

      Another thing is that penalty fares are far too high, often exceeding the maximum possible fare on the journey (eg school bus runs, city link bus)

      • wsomc

        Wait, I’d expect if you forget to tag off then the system just assumes you ride the bus/train to the end of the line. Does it charge an extra penalty?

        • It just charges the standard $5.04 on an Adult card. Never been charged more or less than that amount for failing to tag off, so its more of a bonus if your fare exceeds that amount… lol and I have failed to tag off on many long distance buses 472, 060 and Trains, its always $5.04, not sure where the whole charged the maximum distance thing is coming from? maybe its only on select services that they have that setup.

    • Where’s the ticket machine at New Lynn? I get to the platform, find I have enough time before my train to top up, and then walk most of the length of the platform looking for it, and give up. I’m still disgusted by the length of time it takes for online topups to work. And don’t get me started on how annoying it would be if I was catching only buses and trying to top up, since you can’t top up at most bus stops, and often dairies and such are well out of the way.

      • Its stupidly all the way down the other end of the train station platform, so if your getting a bus and the ticket booth is closed, you need to waste 10 mins doing that and possibly miss your bus… I have complained so many times that they need one near the ticket booth for when its closed and to help with queues.

        Even for train its annoying having to walk all the way down the other end to top-up if entering near the bus interchange area (which is where most people enter).

        • Dan

          I’ve missed a bus because of that, it’s irritating to say the least. It turns what should be a simple transfer into a chore.

          AT seem to view the machines as being for trains only, which is quite odd.

          • Yeah I don’t know… AT just frustrates me with this sort of stuff, they need to get it right, its not that hard…

            Like Henderson they put two machines next to eachother but higher patronage New Lynn, they just put one far away from everything… just because they have a booth which only operates during very limited hours… fail…

          • Dan

            and naturally it’s placed near the lesser used entrance. Even a centrally located unit would’ve made more sense.

          • Indeed Dan, lets home AT read these comments more than their feedback form complaints and actually facepalm at themselves and do something about it.

        • Uggghhhh I mistakenly thought that I just missed it every time I walk through the bus station entrance. That location doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • Steve

      I top up online every time. The payments usually hit my card within a few hours. Maybe I’m lucky, but I’ve had zero problems with my HOP are in the almost two years I’ve had one. It’s just getting better and better.

      • Yeah well we can all celebrate that the majority of people arnt having any issues or it would be big news and already sorted out by now. But even if 1% of people are having issues with the cards, thats a significant amount of people and it needs to be sorted. A colleague of mine ordered a monthly pass online and didnt get it until 4 days later…

        Even right now this issue plagues me, I want to go from Freemans bay to point chev, I will have to walk all the way to K road to top up at the convenience store as my card is -$0.55 and topping up online will take far too long to be added to my card, oh and guess what, I only have my credit card since all my money goes on there and that shop wont let me topup with my credit card. So instead im gonna be lazy and take my car bc thats my only serious option right now, unless I get cash out…oh wait I cant, unless I get out $20 and pay a $2 fee…credit card. Bleh… yep its car for me today…

        • Why cant they add a topup machine to K Road Overbridge? Great strategic area to put one, plenty of people use those bus stops, and the fact that it will be 24×7 and take Credit will be great as some niteriders go through there too.

          Other great areas would be the stops on symonds street bridge where they are trialing the bus stop designs and maybe newmarket near the Westfield, so people dont have to go to the station, and Britomart a few outside for bus users would be great, New Lynn near the buses, Henderson near the buses. Plenty of great spots to put some…

        • Nick R

          Why not load an auto top up from your credit card then? I have one from my bank account, I only pay for what I use and I never run out. It’s perfect, you should try it!

          • Nope, as I’ve said can disable the HOP card, last time I got charged over $200 of $10 automatic topups at once and the card was disabled with quite a bit of balance, which they refused to refund. Not going down that track again… might work for most people, but I am not trusting in that again… and NO my credit card did not expire, it was valid until 2017. Therefore I only stick with topup machines, retail topups or monthly passes. I am sure most people would be reluctant to try again after that experience, especially when I have heard others that went through the exact same scenario.

          • Nick R

            Ok well have fun finding top up locations then. Seriously, it’s a bit like complaining there aren’t enough post offices around because you tried email once and didn’t like it (well, a bad email doesn’t cost you $200 of course…)

          • I had no problem with the amount of topup locations Snapper had, there were plenty, almost every second dairy in town had it. AT HOP on the other hand…

    • wsomc

      As I understand, the value is stored on the card itself. Meaning that your online top-up has to reach the blue box on the bus before you tag on.

      Don’t online top-ups have the same limitation? How does that work?

      Suppose your balance gets low → the blue box sends update to central server → central server charges your card → update has to go to the blue box before you tag on the next time. Or is there a shortcut?

      • Hop Cards have flags for autotopups which is stored locally on the card, when updated that you have an autotopup on the card, it adds X amount automatically every time it goes under and the connected funds source gets charged appropriately.

        Online topups however require contact with a bus that has the required balance update (done via wifi at depots afaik), afaik networked posts shouldn’t have this issue (train stations, ferrys etc) and should show the most current online balance right away.

        I dont know why they cant make a deal with the cellular companies for a data connection for the buses, its not like its big data to check the HOP card online database before verifying tag on, I suppose it could lag it though, especially if the bus is out of reception or the cellular network down. But it could cache this data locally on the bus equipment I suppose and that would work and the cellular connection update it on a best effort basis as it goes.

        • Stranded on the North Shore

          The lag on a 3G data connection can be anything between 40-2000ms with average of 200ms. The server lookup, and data transfer might add further lag to the tag-on/tag-off process, so it’s simply not viable to do a real-time query of the top up. The overnight process is a batch job, and makes sense for the city of our size, but I agree, it does get confusing for people, and AT make it worse by under-promising (up to 72 hours)…

          A delayed look up could be implemented to load your card on tag-off, or after low balance, but I envisage that would make the system way less reliable overall, so no go there.

          Wellington’s Snapper has a system where you can top the card yourself via a NFC enabled smartphone, or with “snapper feeder” (a branded USB RFID reader/writer) – I would really like that option with AT hop – that way you always know exactly how much money you have left, and top us are instant. But that’s not an option for a vast majority of users.

          • Yeah but it could be updated “on the fly” and cached on a storage space on the bus equipment, surely even a 300,000+ row database can be stored in just a few GB and updates would be change-based so it wouldn’t need to be re-downloaded every time someones online balance changed, just the changes merged which would be a few bytes every 10 secs or so. I guess they just don’t see the implementation cost worthy of us at this point… lol. But they could at least give us NFC topups for the time being… snapper had it, and AT HOP has been showing it off since the launch but with no public release…

      • Surely the ‘blue box’ could just have a mobile connection, there’s not many places in auckland that don’t have mobile reception.

        I imagine if auto top-up is setup on the card then the blue box is authorised to add value to your card there and then, and the actual charge to your card happens next time it uploads to the central servers.

        In London the online top-up is applied to your card the next time you tag in at a station. You don’t have to wait before it’s available, but it’s never available on the bus – perhaps the latency on a mobile network for it to top up your card would be too slow. touching in and out is much faster in the London system than here.

        • Stranded on the North Shore

          London’s Oyster also uses Thales system – just like AT. Correct me if I’m wrong. Having real-time top ups at stations is not impossible… However, in London they have more stations, and they’re more accessible to a wider customer base. In Auckland, if they did the same thing people would struggle to get their card topped up – and yes latency, reliability risk and cost are all factors why Auckland’s system is mostly an off-line one for now.

  • There is a weird bug with transfers that looks like it is still in the new system. I catch the dominion Road bus, if I get off the bus on the 1-stage journey point (near countdown) and then get on the next bus I pay $2.90 ( $170 + 1.70 – $0.50 = $2.90 ) which is 10c less than the normal 2 stage fair ( $3 ).

    Not worth my time to save 10 cents but might work for others.

  • unaha-closp

    •Longer distance trips to be cheaper

    To subsidise people living further away from their work.

    •A small increase for short trips

    We penalise people living close to their jobs.

    Seems a perverse incentive.

    • Another way of looking at it is that it’s encouraging the highest-value commute-time trips to shift from driving to public transport. It’s far, far more valuable to the city to have people who have long commutes using public transport, and this is a way of incentivising that.

      Also, the entire idea that we should be discouraging people from living and working in whatever place they so choose is very, very “master plan”. If you own a house and change jobs, then what? Why should we penalise people for their life circumstances?

      The cost increase on short trips looks to be a few cents, which is annoying but hardly life-ending. It’s not much of a “penalty”.

      • Nick R

        There is a difference between discouraging and not-subsidising. Live wherever you like, but pay for that choice fairly. While it may be more valuable to society to get those long car trips off the road and onto PT, it’s also a lot more expensive to provide for those long PT trips. Short trips from denser inner areas to central locations are very efficient, they profit made there cross subsidises long suburban trips. For example the Inner Link moves about as many people as the southern line, but the short and cheap to run bus makes a profit, while the southern line only operates at about 30% cost recovery.

        If anything, we should be discouraging people from living in places where the ratepayer has to pay 2/3rds of their travel costs.

        • If anything, we should be discouraging people from living in places where the ratepayer has to pay 2/3rds of their travel costs.

          Horse. Barn door. etc.
          We are long, long past the point of that being an acceptable way of viewing the problem. The city sprawls, and will continue to sprawl, and the most we can do is try and contain the transport infrastructure costs of that sprawl through the use of public transport over private automobile. Anything else is living in a dreamland, which is an accusation often levelled at those of us who promote public transport over private.

          • Nick R

            Nah bullshit. Just because we have some sprawl already doesn’t mean we should be subsiding even more.

            If people chose to live in the sprawl they can pay for the transport cost associated with it, their choice, but they shouldn’t expect the ratepayer to subsidise their lifestyle choices.

        • Feijoa

          I agree.

          For CBD dwellers in particular they’re also very likely to be going counter peak if they’re taking PT, eg. train from Britomart to Newmarket in the morning which should be cheaper to serve.

  • PatrickORSunnynook

    Why only three trips maximum for a total journey? I thought AT wanted to encourage people to take feeder buses to rapid transit stations and transfer. Four trips to make one journey is a perfectly reasonable option (and possibly more) so I do not believe there should be any restriction to the number in a 2 hour period. Airport trips are an example. I take the 843 bus to Constellation station, NEX to Britomart, train to Papatoetoe and the 380 to the airport. This is a perfectly legitimate through journey and the sort that should be encouraged to promote public transport to the airport. And no proposal of daily and weekly caps? Has AT not been looking at places like Melbourne or London? No need to buy a pass in London anymore – the Oyster system automatically calculates the best fare option for you.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    I suspect we will have to wait for a complete change of govt and one with some strong Green input, before AT will be pushed into providing a fare-regime that will make life as easy and as attractive as possible for the user.

    • unaha-closp

      I suppose so, but the Len Brown group is pretty well entrenched and it would take a large swing to remove this party from office. Also its extremely unlikely to be a swing to the Greens that removes them, more likely it will be a swing rightwards.

  • RJ

    Can’t they have machines that dispense AT hop cards? I know for example the ticket machines in Japan you can buy your card e.g Suica in Tokyo from the ticket machine

  • aucklanderinaus

    Pukekohe & Hibiscus Coast users will get a dramatic decrease in fares under the new structure. Both are 4 zones to the city, which will cost up to $6.50. It’s not around $10

  • unaha-closp

    We should have contraflow/backload discounts to encourage people to go against the grain of our normal commutes.

  • 258BusRider

    Currently I commute from Blockhouse Bay to the City (3-stages) on Mon-Fri, and use the bus for a range of other journeys (going to sport training, general quaxing etc.). For me, by far the best value is the current Zone A (isthmus and city zones) monthly pass ($140).
    Singling out just my current weekly commute to and from work, if I currently just used a HOP card (as opposed to my monthly pass) this would equate to $8 a day ($4 each way) or around $176 per month (based on commuting 22 work days in a month). The new fare for this return journey will be around $6 ($3 each way), which would mean the cost of travel to and from work using a HOP card would reduce from $176 to $132. On the face of it this reduction is great but if I use a HOP card with the new fare system I will end up paying well in excess of what I currently pay. However, my monthly spend will not be enough to justify spending $200 on an all-zone monthly pass. Therefore I will potentially end up having to spend around $170 a month on my HOP card, which is significantly more than I currently pay for my monthly pass. Ideally there should be a range of zoned monthly passes. For example, based on the new zones, a 1-zone pass could be around $80, 2-zone around $120, 3-zone around $160 and then all-zone pass around $200? The focus should really be on encouraging people to use PT not only for their commuting but for journeys outside of this (e.g., on weekends, for quaxing). Doing away with options for zoned monthly passes would greatly reduce using PT in this capacity (for me anyway).

    • You’re the sort of user who in the new system will now find themselves taking the car for a few of those extra trips i imagine, as you don’t have that fixed monthly cost that you want to get better value from.

      • 258BusRider

        Exactly. That sums up my ramblings much more succinctly 🙂 There needs to incentives for people to use PT outside of commuting hours and affordable monthly passes is one such incentive

  • jingyang

    The AT HOP top-ups are a right PITA, simply because there are so few locations. In my regular weekday commute there is one topup location, a ticket booth at the Botany interchange with limited hours. On my semi-regular weekend travel the top-up is at a Paperplus, which has normal retail hours. Another “fun” limitation I discovered the hard way is that when the trains aren’t running the stations are closed (of course), so if you end up on a train replacement bus, you could be in for a bit of bother, for example the only top-up at Manukau City Centre is at the train station…
    I also wonder why AT has stopped top=ups on the buses themselves; although I guess time taken or security concerns with large amounts of cash may be concerns there.
    On a related note, I heard from a retailer (who used to do top-ups, but refused AT) that the contract AT wanted the retailers to sign was rather onerous, including requiring things such as daily banking, staff wearing AT branding, and with a very poor margin as well.

    • BBC

      Set-up an online auto top-up….I never think about my card any longer, it’s always got >$20 on it and refills as and when needed. It’s a huge improvement over Snapper with which I was caught out on multiple occasions with not enough on my card and no cash in my wallet.

      • jingyang

        An auto top-up is way too dangerous for me. My finances skirt close enough to the edge that any unknown/unexpected payments can easily lead to a cascade of bounced payments and bank fees. “Setting and forgetting” is not a viable option. My phone is on prepay for the same reason – budgeting control.

        • Stranded on the North Shore

          AT stopped top ups on buses, because eliminating cash from buses is a smart thing to do. Safer for the driver, faster for the passengers.

          I don’t know about the AT contract with retailers, but from the lack of the retailers with top up machines, I am not surprised.

          I understand the budgeting reason, however you have to remember that that’s your choice, and you end up with consequences of your choice. Auto top-ups require way less labour and hassle, so they’re not only the cheapest way, but also most convenient. BTW – you get an email when your top-up gets triggered a night before it gets taken from your credit card.

          • Steve C

            cash issues could be mitigated by restricting top-ups on buses to a maximum of $20, a “keep you going” amount

            I’ve had passengers complaining that online top-ups can take 2-3 days to show up on the card, come on AT, sort that one out, my bank does instant payments

          • Stranded on the North Shore

            Reply to @Steve C – your bank is connected to the wire 24/7 – the top up system in Auckland is not. It’s quite simple. With the current setup the bus connects to WiFi at the depot at night and then downloads the file of top-ups for the past day and last 60 days – ie. bus should not be able to leave the depot without the latest top-up file. Christchurch (metro) buses are connected wirelessly 24/7 – and top ups are “instant” – I wonder how much that is costing them “per top-up”. That requires the top-up transaction to be notified to every single bus out there. Their fleet is much smaller, so the cost probably rises exponentially with bigger bus fleet. Still, I would love to see the numbers, and see if it’s viable option for Auckland. There was some discussion about it 3 years ago here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/11/01/topping-up-your-at-hop-card-online/

            Re: driver cash top ups: $20 here, $20 there, $100 cash in the till in no time, enough for a thug to rob a driver. Unnecessary in this day and age of technology you’re describing yourself. I vote for anything that removes cash from buses.

          • I’ve had someone come on the Single-stage loop 104 bus with a $50. The driver stopped outside the next dairy… lol.

          • Multi-person on the AT HOP card sucks as well, at least on Snapper you could tag two people on and have the same discount e.g. 2x$1.62, but with AT HOP you have to get a paper ticket for your hop-less pal with your hop money which costs 1.62+2.00, plus some of drivers dont even know how to do it and the other thing is, if you and your pal are both going on a 1 stage and you have $5 on your card your sweet right? Wrong, the driver typically asks you to tag on first, which of course debits your card the penalty fare of $5.04 first leaving your card at -$0.04 unable to buy a ticket for your pal until you tag off…

  • RJ

    Are they assuming that under the new network people will only require 2 transfers max for a trip? coz some people may transfer more

  • Chris Randal

    Two hours aren’t enough. I takes that to go Pukekohe-Henderson without any delays

  • Greg

    Holy crap. My INCREASE is going to be $60 per MONTH. WTF. This is seriously making me reconsider driving to work (Live Avondale -> Work City).
    I can’t believe AT is considering an ‘All Zone’ monthly pass as the only monthly option.
    These options penalize ANYONE living close to the city, or close to where they work at all for that matter, who regularly use PT.
    Sounds like it’s going to be better for me to move out to the sticks where rent is cheaper and PT is going to be cheaper. Help with that urban sprawl eh? Clearly that’s what AT/Council are pushing for.

    • Greg

      Further investigation looks like my *best* case option is that my costs will stay the same…
      As long as I switch to HOP Money, and cut out ALL non-work commute use of PT.
      Guess I’ll be driving to do my shopping & everything else now.

      • David B.

        But you are right – there should be a monthly pass for each zone away from the CBD that encourages casual use of public transport. Strange logic from AT to have only one monthly pass option and they haven’t explained why they recommend this.

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