A nationally consistent payment system for public transport fares will be rolled out around the country, starting in Canterbury in 2024, the Government says.
The change means people can use a single payment system when travelling on buses, trains and ferries nationwide.
The National Ticketing Solution would begin in stages across the country's different public transport authorities, after a contract was signed with supplier Cubic today, Transport Minister Michael Wood said.
Giving people a range of easy-to-use payment methods no matter where they were in the country would help increase public transport use, Wood said.
"Customers will be able to choose what payment method works best for them.
"They will be able to pay for public transport using contactless debit or credit cards, as well as digital payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay, while still offering the option of using a pre-paid transit card."
The new technology would also allow daily, weekly and monthly fare caps to be applied to travel automatically, meaning customers will be charged the best possible fare at the end of each day, he said.
It also meant when travelling to a new town, people would be able to pay using what's already in their pocket, rather than having to buy a transit card specific to that region, or fumble for cash.
"[It] will be an enabler for change. To encourage public transport as the preferred travel choice for more people, more often, we must invest in modern technologies to improve the customer experience."
Cubic had previous experience in rolling out this sort of change, meaning Kiwis could be confident they would be getting a platform that worked, Wood said.
As well as the contract between Waka Kotahi and Cubic, a participation agreement had also been finalised between Public Transport Authorities, Auckland Transport, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Environment Canterbury - which would be first, in 2024.
A regional consortium of 10 smaller councils, which currently use the Bee Card, are also part of the agreement.
These are Northland Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Gisborne Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Nelson City Council, Otago Regional Council and Invercargill City Council.
Local authorities saw the benefits the change could provide to the decarbonisation and economic development of their regions, Wood said.
"Through improved access and increased patronage of public transport, roads will become less congested, safer and we will reduce our emissions."
The move was an important milestone in giving passengers a simpler-to-use public transport system locally and nationally, said Samantha Gain, general manager of Greater Wellington's transport arm Metlink.
"This is great news for our passengers who tell us that they want more and easier ways to pay across all modes of public transport, whether that be train, bus or ferry."
In the meantime, Metlink had already introduced a contactless electronic payment pilot with existing supplier, Snapper, on its Johnsonville Line in November last year.
"The Johnsonville pilot gave Metlink the opportunity to trial the best approaches to design, installation and running of contactless electronic payment system on its rail network.
"The high customer satisfaction associated with the pilot gave Metlink the confidence to roll out Snapper across the whole of its rail network, which is happening [next month].
This would "help inform" the next stage of the National Ticketing Solution, which was expected to be in place for Wellington by 2026, Gain said.