Lester Levy: Frustrated with card changeover?

The roll-out of the AT HOP ticketing system is a complex transition.
The roll-out of the AT HOP ticketing system is a complex transition.

Many Kiwis are familiar with the process of renovating their house while still living in it. The house is dysfunctional, old and poorly maintained - it is definitely time to modernise. Repiling, rewiring, replumbing, adding a bedroom and a general refurbishment. Quite a list, but with good organisation and no surprises, living in the house around the refurbishment should be possible. Finances mean it is impractical to move out during the renovation, but things in the old house are deteriorating and the experience of living in this house is uncomfortable and exasperating. When the 50-year-old drains keep blocking and the family has outgrown the two bedrooms - it is time to put this house in order.

Careful saving coupled with prudent borrowing allow the renovations to start and living with them suddenly is not as easy as previously thought. When a wall is removed an unanticipated, expensive and time-consuming surprise is found. The dream of the modernised house with increased capacity and scope for enjoyment and pride is slowly but surely being dulled by the reality of living with the renovation.

It is time to remember the dream, what it will be like when it is done and to focus on "swinging the hammers - getting on with the job".

Transport in Auckland is undergoing a massive renovation and we are living with it. It is not possible to quarantine the system while we take it from being out of date and constrained to modern and functional.

Whether it is the rail electrification programme, the new electric trains, AMETI, the proposed City Rail Link or smaller but important projects like neighbourhood intersection safety work or walking paths and cycleways, there will be a level of unavoidable disruption from unforeseen problems and delays.

As we found with the roll-out of the new integrated ticketing system (AT HOP), when you take down a wall you can never be quite sure what is behind it. The roll-out started on trains and ferries last year, bus services commenced operator by operator in June of this year. The roll-out will be complete by March 2014. While the overall integrated ticketing roll-out has progressed well, it is a very complex transition where many feel the loss of the familiar. This transition has unfortunately been compounded by irritating ticketing systems overlaps and two information technology glitches which have left some of our customers quite rightly frustrated and annoyed. The overlaps will end before Christmas, one glitch has been fixed and the other is being fixed.

As with the major house renovation, one wonders if it will ever end and you question why you ever started. We need to help our customers when the renovation causes frustration, but we all need to remind ourselves of the benefits that will flow - the transport system in Auckland will be changed in such a positive way that is currently unimaginable.

Why do we renovate and live in and around the renovation? Because in the end it is worth it. Thank you for staying the course with us as we renovate transport for you in Auckland.

Dr Lester Levy is chairman of Auckland Transport.

- NZ Herald

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