Wellington has given up on waiting for a national integrated ticketing system, with the regional council considering a move to extend the use of Snapper cards to the train network.

Snapper can currently only be used on buses. Cash payments are taken on trains or paper tickets can be purchased ahead of a trip.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter wouldn't go as far as calling the system embarrassing but rather described it as "quaint".

"It's certainly a Victorian system of payment and quite literally this system was around in Wellington on our tram network when Queen Victoria was still alive."


Ponter and his colleagues will today discuss whether to sign off on further investigations into extending Snapper to trains, although he was confident of overwhelming support for the move.

It would act as an interim system until the delayed national integrated ticketing system, Project NEXT, is finally rolled out.

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Nationwide implementation is scheduled for 2026, with the system to be trialled in Wellington before that.

"The system is long overdue to be replaced and modernised with an integrated ticketing system. It beggars belief it has taken so long," Ponter said.

"We're coming to the conclusion that yes, we could wait for the NEXT ticketing system for another two years, but that two years could be another three years.

"People's patience starts to run out after a while and quite frankly so does ours."

On the bus network, about 80 per cent of fares are paid using Snapper and 9 per cent with cash. Photo / Mark Mitchell
On the bus network, about 80 per cent of fares are paid using Snapper and 9 per cent with cash. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It's estimated about 15 per cent of rail fares are paid on board using cash, with paper tickets remaining the primary fare collection method.

On the bus network about 80 per cent of fares are paid using Snapper and 9 per cent with cash.


A report prepared for councillors on extending Snapper pointed out rail customers were already familiar with using the card on buses.

"Therefore adopting Snapper on rail creates a convenient and simplified payment experience for customers.

"It also allows customers to benefit from an 'integrated' experience, using the same fare payment media across the network."

Modern rail ticketing systems usually required customers to tag on and off at stations rather than as they got on board trains, the report said.

Any extension would therefore require the installation of platform fare payment equipment, but the Snapper technology could then be swapped out when Project NEXT was ready to be deployed.

The report said contactless electronic payments would also improve public transport use data.


Less cash would also mean less contact, which would reduce any potential transmission of Covid-19.

Detailed costings of the move have yet to be carried out, however, it was expected costs could be met within the existing budget and a reduction in cash handling might improve revenue collection.