Lee blames Govt for Hop transport mess

By Mathew Dearnaley

Mike Lee. Photo / NZ Herald
Mike Lee. Photo / NZ Herald

Auckland Council transport leader Mike Lee says correspondence released by the Beehive confirms government responsibility for the debacle of having two separate electronic passenger cards called Hop.

"We are having to clean up a mess here because of political interference at the highest level," he said yesterday, after the correspondence emerged from documents released under the Official Information Act.

"The reason we have got two separate Hop cards is a direct result of government interference."

He was referring to the supply of a Hop card by Snapper Services to NZ Bus passengers more than a year before Auckland Transport was able to roll out its own ticket under the same name on trains a week and a half ago under a scheme expected to cost ratepayers, taxpayers and bus operators $110 million.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has denied a claim by Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford that he misled Parliament in saying there was no ministerial involvement in a decision to include Snapper in Auckland's integrated ticketing scheme.

"Mr Twyford is engaged in a creative cut-and-paste exercise of the information released under the OIA, but I don't believe his claims have any validity," he said on Sunday night.

But the Labour MP said yesterday that nowhere in hundreds of pages of released documents was there any correction by Mr Brownlee's ministerial predecessor, Steven Joyce, of a letter which Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai sent to Mr Joyce before the company received permission in 2010 to join the Auckland scheme.

Mr Szikszai wrote to the minister that he understood from a meeting with Mr Joyce that his "expectations" were that fellow Infratil subsidiary NZ Bus should be free to install Snapper machines in its 650 Auckland buses.

Mr Joyce's office said he was leaving any response on the issue to Mr Brownlee, as the minister now responsible for transport.

Mr Twyford said he intended writing to the Auditor-General whose office is conducting a "low-level" inquiry into the ticketing scheme.


Pricey fare

Total scheme cost $110 million

Cost to taxpayers $58 million

Cost to ratepayer $42 million

Cost to bus companies $12 million

- NZ Herald

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