Card ready now for cheap fares

By Mathew Dearnaley

Photo / Doug Sherring
Photo / Doug Sherring

Aucklanders are being offered hope of cheaper public transport now introduction of the region's $100 million electronic ticketing scheme is complete.

A report that Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy expects will recommend lower fares to help meet ambitious patronage targets is due before his council body's board in two months.

Dr Levy said yesterday that apart from two technical problems late last year that required weeks of extra testing of the AT Hop card on various bus fleets, the introduction had been a success.

"This is the start in trying to make the whole [public transport] experience better but technically, compared to other places, it has gone particularly well," he said.

More than 280,000 Hop cards are in circulation for seamless cash-free travel on 13 bus fleets as well as trains and most ferries.

The cards are used to pay for about 60 per cent of public transport trips, taking more than $1 million a day.

Auckland Transport director Mike Williams contrasted the Hop introduction to a blowout to $1.6 billion for an electronic ticket system in Melbourne, and serious difficulties for a Sydney scheme.

"Sydney had two goes before it got it right," he told a meeting of his board.

"There have been small quibbles about Hop but I want to congratulate staff because it is right on budget, the quibbles are small and it has happened - this is not an easy trick to pull off."

Dr Levy told the Herald after yesterday's meeting that the card was a stepping stone to a simpler fare structure, which he hoped would give passengers cheaper trips.

- NZ Herald

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