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  # 678978 29-Aug-2012 21:37
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Snapper transactions are significantly less than 1 second.

Online topup with buses is a tough sell, and engineering a rock solid solution is very difficult. It's one of the reason why nobody in the world is doing it.

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  # 679030 29-Aug-2012 23:06
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Kyanar:
sbiddle:
It's also worth noting that the topup process can also add signifcantly to the transaction processing time. On a bus a few hundred ms extra would be very noticeable and would run the real risk of increasing the boarding times significantly.


I can't see how you could increase the boarding times significantly... Snapper already takes an entire second to validate which in computer terms is an eon or two.  The readers connected to the Paymark network are actually faster - and they have to talk to Korea.  Every Link bus already has Wifi and backhaul, so they are theoretically already capable of doing online topup and validation.  Even gradually rolling that out as a solution would be better than the current system where you either have to go to a dairy and pay a topup fee, or buy a $40 dongle from Snapper if you're on NZ Bus, or online topup with every other electronic enabled fleet.


The Snapper busses use Wifi to sync their info back at the depot, I believe. This is why there is a delay in your transactions appearing online on your Snapper account.

Problem with Wifi is it's not available everywhere (Do you want them to build a WiFi network everywhere the busses go?) and it's also not terribly reliable. It suffers for interference quite easily and sadly the hardware and firmware aren't always great either. 3G isn't foolproof either and it would be hugely expensive to roll it out over an entire fleet.

Can you imagine the complaints when peoples top ups don't work and they aren't allowed on the bus because it's 3G connection had fallen over, or there is a problem with the mobile network?



Which Paymark readers are you referring to? For what use and what Technology? (Do you mean Paypass/Paywave?)




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  # 679047 30-Aug-2012 00:44
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ajobbins: The Snapper busses use Wifi to sync their info back at the depot, I believe. This is why there is a delay in your transactions appearing online on your Snapper account.

Problem with Wifi is it's not available everywhere (Do you want them to build a WiFi network everywhere the busses go?) and it's also not terribly reliable. It suffers for interference quite easily and sadly the hardware and firmware aren't always great either. 3G isn't foolproof either and it would be hugely expensive to roll it out over an entire fleet.

I was referring to Link buses specifically, as they actually are Wifi access points (with 3G connectivity).  I'm not actually convinced it couldn't be done the same way debits are already done - offline with batch updates.  Buses already treat what the card claims is its balance as gospel, why not make it so buses can topup the balance, but just don't allow the balance to be used on the ETSL network until the bus has synced with the clearinghouse.  Fit 3G into the bus readers, and then if the network isn't available just queue the topup until the end of the day just like debits are done now.  Since the cards themselves know the balance, it's already a hell of a lot more resilient than the mighty EFTPOS and Credit Card networks, which in the event of connectivity failure just approve any transaction without question.


Can you imagine the complaints when peoples top ups don't work and they aren't allowed on the bus because it's 3G connection had fallen over, or there is a problem with the mobile network?

As above.  We're talking about bus trips here, not $50,000 boat purchases.  If the EFTPOS network can blindly approve buying lunch when the network fails, I'm sure the bus network can risk a few dollars worth of overage.


Which Paymark readers are you referring to? For what use and what Technology? (Do you mean Paypass/Paywave?)

The ones connected to the Paymark/ETSL network - EFTPOS.  Although I made a mistake in referring to the readers when I said that - they're Snapper/KSCC supplied.

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  # 679068 30-Aug-2012 06:28
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Just reading over this after being up all night, it seems that Snapper have the better system/implementation, but political reasons (government and business) prevented and will prevent Snapper rolling out in Auckland. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Hypothetical situation: ARTA ends the Thales contract. GWRC and ARTA team up and buy out Snapper, a 50/50 share each and deploy it in both regions as a requirement for all transport operators to continue to operate their services (ie, when tenders are renegotiated). Keep the 'balance' on the card but the clearing houses separate, and use the same system so that you can ultimately use the same card in both regions and selected retailers. Eventually, throw in NFC and PayWave/PayPass support and you'd have something brilliant that both residents and tourists could use without issue.

I realise that this scenario will never happen, given both the financial cost, legal issues and politics involved (keep adding to this list as necessary), but dreams are free..!




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  # 679078 30-Aug-2012 07:43
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munchkin: Just reading over this after being up all night, it seems that Snapper have the better system/implementation, but political reasons (government and business) prevented and will prevent Snapper rolling out in Auckland. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Hypothetical situation: ARTA ends the Thales contract. GWRC and ARTA team up and buy out Snapper, a 50/50 share each and deploy it in both regions as a requirement for all transport operators to continue to operate their services (ie, when tenders are renegotiated). Keep the 'balance' on the card but the clearing houses separate, and use the same system so that you can ultimately use the same card in both regions and selected retailers. Eventually, throw in NFC and PayWave/PayPass support and you'd have something brilliant that both residents and tourists could use without issue.

I realise that this scenario will never happen, given both the financial cost, legal issues and politics involved (keep adding to this list as necessary), but dreams are free..!


Snapper doesn't have the ability to make changes like you suggest.  The clearing house is owned and operated in Seoul by Korea Smart Card Co, and they create and issue the cards/readers etc too.  So unless you could convince KSCC to implement PayPass/PayWave, that would be a no go.  I also don't think accepting Visa/MasterCard directly would be a) technically feasible with the offline transaction implementation (I believe PayWave/PayPass transactions need to be online) or b) financially viable with the credit card commission percentage and per-transaction fees.

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  # 679179 30-Aug-2012 10:56
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sbiddle: Snapper transactions are significantly less than 1 second.

Online topup with buses is a tough sell, and engineering a rock solid solution is very difficult. It's one of the reason why nobody in the world is doing it.

Not true - Christchurch has it working on buses see www.metroinfo.co.nz

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  # 679195 30-Aug-2012 11:25
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ajobbins:
Kyanar: The problem is that we wouldn't have even had this problem if Snapper had simply gotten over that they were not the preferred supplier, and not lobbied to be allowed to launch off ARTA's back after unsuccessfully suing them.  I cannot by any stretch of the term think of Snapper as the good guys here,


From what I have heard the original tender process was very much not conducted in a fair way, and certainly not a in a way that provided the best solution for Auckland - in terms of value for money, technology and architecture, the Thales solution was inferior.

Snapper, IMHO, have done a fantastic job of implementing a working system in Wellington. They have


I can see many reasons why AT would not want to be beholden to Snapper, owned by Infratil, the same company that owns NZ Bus.....who provide 40% of Auckland's buses....and who constantly run to the (National Party) Minister of Transport when they don't get their way. 

If I were Auckland Transport, I'd reward that behaviour with no contracts next time around. 

The inability to dictate transport needs to contracted parties is a major reason why Auckland still has a fragmented (routes, stations, modalities, ticketing) public transport service.

That changed just prior to 2009....but the Amalgamation messed it up again.  

The problem here is 100% political.....in that cronyism between private transport operators and - usually - right-wing / private-operator loving local and national politicians keeps getting in the way of what needs doing. 

We're seeing this right now in road versus rail. The government is giving the private truck operators a $45 million defacto subsidy so they can run longer trucks on more roads....at the same time it is letting rail rot - which is purpose-built for carrying larger volumes of cargo....and cutting $17m from road safety policing. The public good? They don't care. 

The priority is the cronies. If you vote National, that's what you get. It's been that way for 50 years and I can't see it changing. 





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  # 679197 30-Aug-2012 11:32
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Ok, I will bite. Did anything change in Auckland transport during Labour's governments?





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  # 679204 30-Aug-2012 11:42
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Kyanar: I was referring to Link buses specifically, as they actually are Wifi access points (with 3G connectivity).  I'm not actually convinced it couldn't be done the same way debits are already done - offline with batch updates.  Buses already treat what the card claims is its balance as gospel, why not make it so buses can topup the balance, but just don't allow the balance to be used on the ETSL network until the bus has synced with the clearinghouse.  Fit 3G into the bus readers, and then if the network isn't available just queue the topup until the end of the day just like debits are done now.  Since the cards themselves know the balance, it's already a hell of a lot more resilient than the mighty EFTPOS and Credit Card networks, which in the event of connectivity failure just approve any transaction without question.


Firstly, putting WiFi on those busses only is because it's good for tourism. Rolling it out across the whole network would cost millions to fit them all with the gear, millions in training for the drivers so they can troubleshoot (These things crash ALL THE TIME), and millions in ongoing data charges. The Airport Flyer has had WiFi on borard for some years now (With Vodafone 3G backhaul). It's widely known for it's terrible reliability.

Secondly, offline EFTPOS (In the case of network problems) is very different from offline topups. With EFTPOS, you can expect that the majority of time there will in fact be cleared funds available in the account later to process the transaction. With these MiFARE cards, because the card is the authoritative balance holder, there is much less chance that there would be a waiting top up. In fact, you would need to have the system ASSUME that there was a top up there any time a card is used that has an insufficient balance - Trying to check this in 'real time' would be a nightmare! Network latency, network black spots, congestion, network maintenance etc. The whole thing would fall apart.

As above.  We're talking about bus trips here, not $50,000 boat purchases.  If the EFTPOS network can blindly approve buying lunch when the network fails, I'm sure the bus network can risk a few dollars worth of overage.


As above, you would have to assume there is a waiting top up every time a card is used with insufficient funds. Using 3G backhaul is far too unreliable. That would open the system to abuse. People would use their cards knowing they had no top up waiting and no available funds and never pay it back.

Another issue, what if I purchase a monthly pass, say between the north shore and the city. My pass topup isn't available on the bus I tag onto so it takes it from my cash balance. I then need to get on a bus from Britomart to somewhere out west (Not covered by my monthly pass). My pass loads at britomart - but what happens now? Do I get a refund for the cash fare I paid, or what? What if my top up isn't available at Britomart still and I now don't have enough cash on my card for the next journey?

This stuff is an absolute nightmare to make work in the real world.

The ones connected to the Paymark/ETSL network - EFTPOS.  Although I made a mistake in referring to the readers when I said that - they're Snapper/KSCC supplied.


I'm still not sure what you mean? Do you mean the ones in places like Fix where you can pay for items or top up your card that are connecetd with the POS and EFTPOS systems?

If so, again, the tnx isn't going off to Korea, it's being done locally between the Terminal and the card.




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  # 679207 30-Aug-2012 11:54
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freitasm: Ok, I will bite. Did anything change in Auckland transport during Labour's governments?


One critical change was giving local bodies - particularly Auckland regional Council - the power to set standards for public transport. In other words...to dictate what was required without having to beg for it (as had been the case prior). 

But it came very late - September 2008. The election was only weeks away. NZ Bus lobbied strongly for its repeal after the election. In stead, Auckland was amalgamated....and central government gets a funder's veto anyway. So Auckland can do what it likes as far as it can pay for it.....but if the government in Wellington loves privately-operated trucks and buses, any local body looking for a solution beyond that won't get very far.  

Labour also supported the construction of Britomart Transport Centre - kicked off in October 2001. Of course the rightward side of Council thought it was too expensive and a waste of money, it is now regarded as a success. That's how it works, unfortunately....over and over. 

Along the way, Auckland also acquired the rail right of way, thanks to the government of the day, so it could control where the trains went without having to negotiate with any other parties. 

There is a long list of other improvements, but I don't have time to look them up right now. 

Suffice to say the power to do what is needed and the means to do it were MAJOR contributions of the previous government.....contributions the current government has been undermining right from the start. 

Building roads instead of rail when petrol is heading to $3 / litre and beyond is just plain dumb. But the short term view of Nationals trucking and bus cronies can't see that. 

Labour bought Kiwirail because they could see it coming in 2008 and were ready to invest toward the day when NZ would need a viable alternative to fossil fuels being burnt in all directions. 

Labour also knew that tax cuts weren't sustainable as the GFC of 2008 was as obvious as dog's balls to everyone but the National Party. 

I saw it coming for the 2 years prior and took steps to mitigate any effects of a crash on my own circumstances. As it turned out, I timed it to within 3 months. Michael Cullen was clearly doing the same in resisting tax cuts in "case of a rainy day, which would certainly come".  

Well...between the GFC and the Chch earthquakes, we've had a rainy day....and National's appalling lack of prudence is exposed on all fronts. 

Public transport just one of them. 



 




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  # 679224 30-Aug-2012 12:50
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freitasm: Ok, I will bite...


But you knew already what the taste was going to be, I'll wager Laughing.

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  # 679226 30-Aug-2012 12:52
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  # 679239 30-Aug-2012 13:18
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savag3:
sbiddle: Snapper transactions are significantly less than 1 second.

Online topup with buses is a tough sell, and engineering a rock solid solution is very difficult. It's one of the reason why nobody in the world is doing it.

Not true - Christchurch has it working on buses see www.metroinfo.co.nz


I should have paraphrased my comment with the world "realtime".

Christchurch have online topups but it's guaranteed to a realtime service. If you're going to engineer an online topup service IMHO it needs to be a realtime.




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  # 679240 30-Aug-2012 13:20
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freitasm: Of course, but I want people to actually put out there instead of just claim.


...and fair enough. 

Hopefully people eventually undertand I can back up what I claim....but it's always worthwhile keeping people honest.  




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  # 679348 30-Aug-2012 16:33
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ajobbins: With these MiFARE cards, because the card is the authoritative balance holder, there is much less chance that there would be a waiting top up.

I hope that these are MiFARE Plus cards, because the security on the older cards has been compromised. The Classic cards were hacked back in 2008, allowing them to be cloned, and the same happened last year with the DESFire cards.

Have a look on Wikipedia about the card's security concerns. There's enough there that Auckland Transport should be at least a little worried.

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