Auckland Transport has terminated its contract with Snapper after concluding the Infratil-owned company would not be able to meet the November 30 deadline to deliver its part of the $98 million Auckland Integrated Fares System (AIFS).
“This is a regrettable decision but follows our conclusion that Snapper could not modify its system in a suitable timeframe to make it compliant with the technology being progressively developed for Auckland Transport by French firm Thales,” says Auckland Transport CEO David Warburton, in a statement released Friday evening.
Warburton says the HOP/Snapper cards currently in use on NZ Bus services will continue to be operational until they are swapped out for free next year. The new service, to be known as AT/HOP, will use the Thales system.
AT/HOP cards for rail will be introduced on October 28, and for ferry services by November 30, Warburton says.
Snapper says it is being wrongly blamed for the delays, pointing at Auckland Transport and Thales for not giving it the support it needed to successfully complete the integration.
“We are frustrated that critical components for our integration work that we needed from Auckland Transport, NZTA and Thales have consistently not been made available to us,” says Rhoda Phillipo, chair of Snapper and Infratil super CIO.
“ Snapper put forward a plan in April that would have delivered by 30 November, but Auckland Transport never took the decisions and steps it needed to take for that plan to be implemented.”
Phillipo says Snapper has been ready to deliver system that could integrate with the central system, but claims it is Thales which is lagging behind.
“Snapper’s role was limited to integrating with that system, and the reality is that the AIFS system has not yet been built,” says Phillipo.
Snapper has not received any compensation for its integration efforts, says Phillipo. She maintains that Snapper has not breached its contract and will seek compensation from Auckland Transport for wrongful termination. RadioNZ reports the figure Snapper is seeking is more than $10 million.
“The ultimate cost of this decision by Auckland Transport for Auckland ratepayers is likely to be significant when compared with the commercial investment that Snapper has made to date and were willing to continue to invest until the project completed,” says Phillipo.
French technology company Thales initially won the contract to deploy an integrated ticketing system in 2009, with the then Auckland Regional Transport Association.
Snapper missed out on the contract, but was awarded a participation agreement with Auckland Transport in late 2010 following a legal challenge. It was charged with deploying the smart card ticketing system on services run by sister company New Zealand Bus, which would need to plug into Thale’s centralised system for rail and ferry.
Snapper’s NFC smartcards for buses were rolled out ahead of the Rugby World Cup last year, but in January it was revealed that more than 90,000 HOP/Snapper cards needed to be replaced in order to work with the Thales system.
Following a missed trial dealine in February, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said NZ Bus’s $70 million operational subsidy would be at risk if Snapper failed to meet the November 30 deadline.