Canty council hits ticketing snag

A software bug has delayed deployment of a $1 million Environment Canterbury public transport ticketing system by a month.

A software bug has delayed deployment of a $1 million Environment Canterbury (eCan) public transport ticketing system by a month.

Metrocard was due to go on the road this month but the launch has been delayed until October 27 for further testing.

Testing of the long-awaited system last weekend uncovered errors in how the software applies discounts to users, says eCan passenger services manager Wayne Holton-Jeffreys.

“Testing over the past three weeks identified the bug but because we lost two weeks of testing, we decided it would be prudent to hold back for a month,” he says.

However, the errors have now been identified and corrected.

The Metrocards are produced by ERG Ticketing Systems of Perth. They feature a chip and an aerial that is integrated with the ticket machine on a bus.

The electronic wallets store cash value when people buy or top-up their cards. They can be read by the ticket machines without the devices actually making contact.

The system software, written by ERG, has cost about $500,000. It includes creation of a “smart clearing house” which the Perth-based company says works out where fares were collected so at the end of each day ticketing revenue is shared between transport operators using the system.

The clearing house, which relies on 200 new ticketing machines on buses, will also improve the detail of journey information already obtained from existing systems to help bus operators and the regional council plan transport services.

Holton-Jeffreys says smart ticketing has been on the cards since 1998 as a joint-venture with Christchurch City Council and bus operators.

“Anything to do with software, you never take for granted. Metrocard is a very clever system, maybe too clever. But the reason for it is perfectly logical — rewarding and encouraging people to use the system more. We expect from the new ticketing system alone that bus patronage will increase by 5%.”

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