Snapper says it will comply with 'agreed' ticketing standards

Auckland signs $47 million contract with Thales for integrated ticketing build

Integrated ticketing card operator Snapper says it will contribute to and abide by "agreed" national integrated ticketing standards in its roll out of smart-card services in Auckland.

However, the company is still questioning why ARTA and NZTA would opt to spend $47 million to develop a system of its own rather than roll out Snapper as the national card for much less up front.

Yesterday, ARTA and the NZTA signed a contract with French firm Thales to implement integrated ticketing in Auckland. The project is expected to form the basis of a national system.

Snapper bid for the deal, but lost. The project is now a year behind its original schedule after funding issues arose and an appeal by Snapper led to a probity review of the tender process.

Other providers can participate in the platform provided they comply with national standards still to be developed, ARTA and NZTA say. Bus operators, such as NZBus, which is owned by Snapper's parent company Infratil, have been reminded that any ticketing equipment they use needs to be certified by ARTA as the funding authority for contracted transport services.

ARTA chairman Rabin Rabindran says the Thales system will allow it to implement its preferred approach, including a centralised system and contestability between suppliers for parts of the system. The Thales system is also able to offer small payments for incidentals such as parking and coffee, as Snapper does now.

Snapper, meanwhile, continues to question the cost of the project, put at at $47 million yesterday, saying operating costs and equipment costs to operators are not included.

“Why ARTA wants to persevere with building a duplicate system, now revealed as costing Auckland ratepayers and central government $47 million plus undisclosed annual operating costs (previously budgeted at $65 million over 10 years) plus undisclosed equipment costs to the operators, when it is also looking for ways of cutting public expenditure on public transport, is a question only they can answer," says Snapper chairman Paul Ridley-Smith. "We had previously offered to provide everything they want more quickly, far more cheaply and with far less risk, using the proven and available Snapper system."

Central government is picking up part of the cost and the central clearing house part of the system is expected to be transferred to NZTA as the national system is rolled out.

Last week, Snapper announced it was going to roll its card out on NZBus services in Auckland ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

“Our announcement last week that NZ Bus will use our system will make electronic ticketing available for more than half of all public transport trips in Auckland before kick-off — we have got Auckland off to a flying start, and we are very happy to work with ARTA to get integrated ticketing across all public transport forms by then," Ridley-Smith says.

He says multiple suppliers meeting a national need is the most likely way things will develop, and today’s announcement by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority "makes no difference to this vision”.

Thales vice president Pierre Maciejowski said Thales is teaming up with Netherlands ticketing provider Octopus, which will provide the clearing house for the system.

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