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353 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 675160 21-Aug-2012 16:08
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Reading this thread and staring at another year of increasing rates bills from Auckland on my desk and seeing that ARTA has to pay Thales $627k per month for the stalled development, has me spitting nails.

Seriously, Auckland is the most fubar city I have lived in for wasteful spending and lack of accountability.  There is simply no accountability in the council.  I am utterly convinced the dysfunction with the ARTA and the council in Auckland is systemic.

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  # 675168 21-Aug-2012 16:29
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Having used the Snapper system in Wellington and the Metrocard in Christchurch I have to say that the Christchurch system is far superior from a usability point of view. Just hand over cash to the driver to top up the card at no cost, no scanning when you leave the bus (not a card feature I know but great all the same).

 
 
 
 


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  # 675181 21-Aug-2012 17:22
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DoggNZ: Is there a fee for topping up your Snapper SIM or a normal Snapper card via the Snapper App on a 2 Degrees phone? I've done it but never actually took any notice

Edit: Ok, the Snapper site still shows my pre-top up balance and it looks like I got stung ~$3


No, there's no fee.

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Ultimate Geek


  # 675187 21-Aug-2012 17:34
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The outcome here will be interesting if snapper get kicked or not.

I would say that the best option is to stop where they are now with this system and buy a already tryed and tested solution that meets their means (Oyster UK, Octerpus HK) and go with it from there.

If the company refuses to take the standard next time the contract rolls around write it in then.

While I was living in the uk they even had a barclay credit card that you could use on the tube/bus system and that was 5 years ago, online topup was a feature where you did not get stung a fee for topping up or need to buy an extra accessory to be able to have this option.

If they want a system that you can use in shops as well Octerpus worked fine for me when in HK in the shop and on the subway.

Dion
 

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  # 675207 21-Aug-2012 18:52
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mckenndk: I would say that the best option is to stop where they are now with this system and buy a already tryed and tested solution that meets their means (Oyster UK, Octerpus HK) and go with it from there. 

 


Oyster and Octopus are only brand names for a product - behind this there is a back end system and terminals supplied by multiple vendors. While Oyster works well it is very old technology, and moves have been afloat for a few years now to replace it.

In the case of Snapper they're using the t-money system from Korea which is one of the largest payment systems in the world. The name of the guy who originally set up Snapper for Infratil escapes me, but he came from Oyster and moved on to New York when Miki took over.

 

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  # 675213 21-Aug-2012 19:44
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I'm not sure how good the WN Snapper is but the Auckland leave a lot to be desired like being charged for the whole journey when you tagged off instead of the section you just traveled on. Getting on the bus and tagging on and being told "fair paid" Tagging off and being told " Pleaze tag on at the front of the bus" Both my wife and I have experienced this sort of stuff lots of times. Being over charged for the full trip apparently up here is quite common judging by complaints to the NZ Herald a couple of months ago..




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  # 675272 21-Aug-2012 22:10
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oxnsox: In the news again this morning that Snapper is having trouble integrating with the Thales supplied systems in Auckland.

I have to admit I haven't followed this too closely but what's the real issue here?

Surely it's not all to do with proprietary solutions, with the bigger player (Thales) not playing ball with Snapper to get a working integrated solution. Is it simply politics, or did Snapper just get it wrong when they signed up??


The politics is "complicated". 

The neo-liberal ideologues inflicted on Auckland a public transport system that was supposed to be "efficient" and contestable.

It's just detestable.

Prior to 2008, ARTA did not have the legal power to tell bus companies where it wanted buses run and when it wanted them run. It had to "negotiate". This simply resulted in a patchy, poorly integrated system of several independent providers doing their own thing...and users having to try to work out how to get anywhere with a variety of fares and tickets on schedules that didn't line up.....between bus routes that might require a walk of 500 metres...or a kilometer.....or sometimes more...just to get from the bus you rode into the city to the next bus you needed to catch.

In other words.....massive market fail.

In 2008, Labour passed a law giving ARTA the power to dictate to operators what services were required. NZ Bus tried to get National to repeal this law, but instead National amalgamated Auckland and appointed people to the head of the "Council Controlled Organisations" (CCOs)....which the Council doesn't actually control. 

OK..so now you have Auckland Transport instead of ARTA.

It was decided that to "integrate" the ticketing for the dog's breakfast of private operators that $100M should be spent on setting up an electronic tag-on / tag-off system.

It's worth noting that is ONLY required because the money has to flow to half a dozen or more for-profit transport operators. If all buses and trains in Auckland were run by a single public organisation there would be no need whatever for the $100M system...as all the money would go into one pot...and there is no need for profit either.

So...and here we get to the point...If you are looking for a city-wide electronic ticketing system do you choose one owned by one of the contracted operators? Bear in mind that NZ Bus is more than happy to run their buddies in the National Party to get your decisions overturned or undermined if they don't get what they want. They didn't call (former) Transport Minister, Steven Joyce, the "Minister for Infratil" for nothing. 

You'd have to be totally brain dead to choose Snapper...and bind yourself to the problematic NZ Bus forever. So they did not choose Snapper. They chose Thales. 

But NZ Bus being NZ Bus, they went ahead and implemented Snapper anyway...and Steven Joyce leaned on Auckland Transport to find a way to include Snapper in the final solution along side Thales. For their part, it looks to me like NZ Bus was trying to present Auckland with a fait accompli....and do an end run around Thales all-together. 

Suffice to say, the contracted integration of Snapper and the Thales system isn't a happening thing...and I would have bet a sizeable amount of money a year ago that we would end up exactly where we are: NZ Bus and Snapper disrupting the new system....and generally trying to make Auckland Transport (and the Council) look bad. For their part, Auckland Transport have only themselves to blame for giving way on Snapper in the first place......because even to a guy like me this was all but inevitable because NZ Bus are anything but team players. 

This is a perfect example of why politically-connected private operators is a TERRIBLE way to run a public transport system......  

Auckland Transport should own and operate every last bus and train ($100M would buy a LOT of buses)...and just get on with the job...and end the two decades of market failure and crony capture that have prevented a decent public transport system from being developed in Auckland. 

Get rid of the National government and things should come right. Their deliberate blocking of any solutions that do not pour public money into the pockets of private bus and train operators is the long term problem faced by every city in NZ large enough to require public transport. It isn't hard to see they are running down, shutting down or selling off public assets we all paid to build up....and they are doing it for the benefit of their business mates. 

I've been watching this for years now....the points of failure are obvious enough...and the National Party is a major fail where public services if ANY kind are required.   

One side note: With Snapper, if the sensor on the bus you're "tagging off" isn't working, the next time you board a bus you're charged a penalty fare....the maximum for the route. Trying to get your money back is damn near impossible...(as several people I know have found out) meaning the operator (NZ Bus) has NO incentive to rapidly address any system failures as they make more money if the system is - occasionally - broken. In fact, they have a powerful financial incentive to - occasionally - break a sensor here and there. A sensor broken for half a day on a busy route could result in thousands of extra dollars in revenue...most of which you'll never have to return because people (like my eldest daughter) simply can't be bothered chasing them for $3-$4. I emailed them asking how to get money back in such a situation...and they never answered - despite a commitment to respond within 2-3 working days. It's been a month. 

 It's an appalling system. NZ Bus should not be allowed to provide any services in Auckland. They have done more than enough harm already.




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  # 675279 21-Aug-2012 22:32
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freitasm:
ajobbins: Is www.thalesgroup.com offline for everyone else?

Do you want a company that can't even keep their website up to be running your bus ticketing?


ROFL. Auckland is full of #fail. Years ago they said "NO" to TelstraClear and now they can't have a cable network service. Now they say "NO" to Snapper.


Auckland public transport has been blighted over and over by the Citizens & Ratepayers local body politicians. They blocked the good public transport system proposed in the late 70s by Mayor "Robbie". They are now - still - working hard to prevent the building of an effective rail network.....pretending 800 buses / hour could somehow carry 50,000 people into and through the city centre at peak hour. It just isn't possible.....only trains can drop a thousand people off in 30 seconds...and load a thousand more in the next 30 seconds. 

The National Party wears the blame here....putting the interests of their mates who build roads and / or own bus and truck companies ahead of everyone else.....and doing it with thoughtless disregard for the consequences.




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  # 675284 21-Aug-2012 22:48
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The concerns I have with the whole ticketing thing is the data, who owns it, and why we (the public) cant access it as it is a public service. GWRC is redesigning the bus system here, but no one has produced any data which shows why it needs to change except for saying that they are sick of buses being late...Hint: if they are late enough just wait for the next one.

I think the ticketing system needs to be inter operable, but unfortunately until providers are forced to do it, through some sort of stick or carrot, why would they.

BTW even Oyster although it is old tech can do daily passes, ie. after $5 travel, you automatically go on the daily rate etc. Snapper cant or more likely wont.

Here is a solution: buy some shares in infratil, use the dividend to pay for your bus pass...

Jon

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  # 675300 22-Aug-2012 06:15
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jonherries: 

BTW even Oyster although it is old tech can do daily passes, ie. after $5 travel, you automatically go on the daily rate etc. Snapper cant or more likely wont.



Pricing is set by the GWRC, not Snapper or any of the bus companies.




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  # 675319 22-Aug-2012 08:11
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Yeah, part of the problem is that apparently Auckland Transport actually loses money with fares set below $1.90 base fare per stage. Personally, I feel that this is more a failing of the commercial model where they are paying operators than a reflection of the real cost of providing the service - after all, Transport for London and many other transport authorities can provide service to considerably more people at a lower cost than Auckland Transport is charging. Unfortunately I don't see this changing even if Labour gets back into power, although Phil Twyford (Te Atatu electorate MP) has said he will advocate for better public transport in Waitakere at least.

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  # 675332 22-Aug-2012 09:02
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Oh, and good news for Aucklanders! Apparently Auckland Transport is in talks with Snapper to get them to go away. Which will apparently involve giving Snapper lots of money.

Good news was sarcastic, by the way.

It's funny, the Auckland merger was supposed to make the city run more efficiently and save ratepayers money. Instead, it's costing ratepayers up to several hundred percent more per year, and is ten times slower to do anything. Bloody National.

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  # 675334 22-Aug-2012 09:05
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sbiddle:
mckenndk: I would say that the best option is to stop where they are now with this system and buy a already tryed and tested solution that meets their means (Oyster UK, Octerpus HK) and go with it from there. 

 


Oyster and Octopus are only brand names for a product - behind this there is a back end system and terminals supplied by multiple vendors. While Oyster works well it is very old technology, and moves have been afloat for a few years now to replace it.

In the case of Snapper they're using the t-money system from Korea which is one of the largest payment systems in the world. The name of the guy who originally set up Snapper for Infratil escapes me, but he came from Oyster and moved on to New York when Miki took over.

 


what's the deal with sea-life related brand names?

Oyster
Octopus
Snapper

What's next? Sea Cucumber?

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  # 675341 22-Aug-2012 09:16
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There's one universal system that works on buses and trains everywhere: Cash.

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  # 675342 22-Aug-2012 09:18
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kyhwana2: There's one universal system that works on buses and trains everywhere: Cash.


Monthly Discovery Pass too.  They talk about integrated ticketing, but it already exists, it's just not convoluted and unnecessarily technological enough for them.  I walk onto a bus, train, or ferry in Auckland, wave the card at the driver/conductor, and sit down.  No tagging on, tagging off, fumbling for cash, or anything like that.

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