Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Through the hoops for a new Hop card

Auckland university student James Parcell with his HOP bus card. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Auckland university student James Parcell with his HOP bus card. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland's electronic Hop card has failed the customer-friendly test for university student James Parcell, who says he had to "jump through the hoops" to claim a concession fare.

When he went to renew the concession on his student Hop card, he was told he had to supply signed scanned documents to prove who he was.

"This is a ridiculous overreaction," said the engineering student, who lives in Mt Eden and with the card saves 80c a trip on the adult single stage bus fare.

Mr Parcell had to go from university to Britomart Transport Centre to get an application form, which was a signed declaration, and validate his ID.

Ten working days must be allowed for the concession to be renewed.

"This is a terrible system and I hear a lot of grumbles from students," he said. "It does not sound much but an extra $32 a month is significant to a student and that's only if you live one stage from the university. It's much worse for students travelling more.

"How about streamlining with the tertiary institutions so enrolment adds me to a student discount data base instead of this outdated signed form?"

Mr Parcell said that having used public transport in Dunedin and Perth, he was surprised at the hassles in catching a bus in Auckland.

"I think they need to look elsewhere where systems are better organised."

He found it strange that when shops near his bus stop refused to top up the card and he had to pay cash, he was unable to claim the tertiary student discount. But secondary students were able to pay cash and get a discount.

Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said proof of identification was required because the "substantial" discount came from ratepayers and taxpayers.

Tertiary institutes had withdrawn from providing renewal facilities on campus but there had been several options for renewing the concession when it expired on March 31.

"We had Hop helpers stationed at key tertiary institutes for over four weeks where students could hand in forms and have their ID validated by a Hop helper."

A window had been set up at Britomart to validate student ID and accept hardcopy forms. Students could also apply online.

Another option was to download the application form off the website, enclose documentation, and send it to a free post address or drop it in at the main transport hubs.

Regarding Mr Parcell's complaint about a lack of stores topping up cards, Auckland Transport said people would be able to top up online by the end of the year when the card would be introduced across the region's bus, rail and ferry fleets.

- NZ Herald

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