News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Regional Council is investigating rolling out Snapper payments on rail services across the region next year. Transport committee chair Roger Blakeley says today’s timely decision is in line with national ticketing developments and the more immediate need for more contactless payment options during COVID-19.
He says a feasibility study will be completed in the first quarter of next year, with implementation to follow.
“As we saw with the alert levels we need to have safe contactless methods of payment available across the region’s network sooner rather than later. Enhancing fare collection efficiency also aligns with the future of national ticketing and the Council’s longstanding vision for a world-class integrated public transport network with high levels of accessibility, quality, reliability and flexibility,” says Cr Blakeley.
International and local experience shows that customers increasingly prefer and use cash free methods of payment for public transport. The reason for this is the key benefits for customers including access to fare discounts, convenience, and ease of boarding allowing for faster journeys. Many customers also prefer to use non-cash payment in order to track and manage their travel budgets, and often, that of their dependants.
“Modern rail ticketing systems require customers to ‘tag-on’ and ‘tag-off’ at station platforms, and this is something that Council believes could be achieved with Snapper in the short term and swapped out when national ticketing is implemented in the future,” says cr Blakeley.
Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher says no communities would be left behind if Snapper does roll out to rail.
“As we explore extending Snapper we’ll test and trial what works and what doesn’t with our passengers and communities across the region. Our goal is to encourage as many people to use public transport and to make sure that off-board cash payment options remain available for customers needing such options,” says Scott Gallacher.
On Metlink’s buses, approximately 80% of fares are paid using Snapper. It is estimated 15% of Metlink rail fares are paid on board using cash with paper tickets still used as the primary fare collection method. On ferry, approximately 11% of boardings are paid for by on board cash payments.
“Our focus is on providing better services to passengers and, in our regular customer satisfaction survey, passengers tell us that convenience of paying is an area we can improve on with 68% of rail passengers currently satisfied compared to 78% with our bus passengers. Clearly there’s room for improvement here and Snapper on rail could have a profound impact,” says Scott Gallacher.
Following today’s decision by the Council, Metlink will engage with relevant operators and communities on the feasibility of Snapper on rail and work with Waka Kotahi to ensure alignment with government direction and projects including national ticketing.