On the eve of the confirmation of an integrated ticketing system for Auckland public transport, the unsuccessful tenderer has launched a rival system.
Snapper Services, a subsidiary of Infratil, yesterday announced that it would introduce a one-card system for buses, trains and ferries by March - despite losing a bid to French electronic giant, Thales.
Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai acknowledged that there was lots of room and therefore opportunity to go ahead with its ticketing system anyway.
"We don't see this as pushing anyone away. It's about working together," Mr Szikszai said.
Snapper ticketing systems are set to pop up in Auckland buses first, before the company moves progressively on to other means of public transport.
The Snapper card - which has been used by thousands of Wellington bus commuters since last July - will let the user travel on bus, train and ferry services at a price less than the normal fare. The card will cost no more than $10 in the first instance, and the user will be able to top it up with as much or as little as they like.
With around 60,000 visitors expected to arrive in Auckland for the Rugby World Cup in 2011, Mr Szikszai said, the integrated ticketing system was something many visitors would find easy and appreciate - being one less thing to worry about.
Up to 1000 taxis in Wellington will have the Snapper ticketing system by March, he said, a move which is expected to expand into Auckland and other parts of the country.
Yesterday's announcement comes only days before the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and the New Zealand Transport Agency are set to sign a contract with Thales for a seamless "integrated" ticket for passengers to ride on buses, trains and ferries under simpler fare structures.
Last night, a spokeswoman for the authority said the two public bodies were driving the process, not Snapper, and looking at whether the rebel operator could introduce its own integrated ticketing system. There would be no public funding for Snapper, she said.
Authority chief executive Fergus Gammie called Snapper's announcement "premature".
All Auckland public transport operators, including the Infratil-owned NZ Bus, would be required to participate in the authority's ticketing system. There would be opportunities for other suppliers to be involved in Auckland's system. They would be developed with the Transport Agency and industry.
On November 2, the Transport Agency announced funding approval for the authority to complete negotiations with Thales. The agency also confirmed an intention to turn a central processing system to be developed initially for Auckland into a national facility for other cities to share, to improve the popularity of public transport. Neither the national agency nor the regional authority would disclose how much had been allocated.
But agency chief Geoff Dangerfield indicated the overall deal would work out cheaper for Auckland ratepayers than a previous $80 million proposal, as his organisation would take ownership of the central processing system.By Vaimoana Tapaleao Email Vaimoana, Bernard Orsman @BernardOrsman Email Bernard