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Integrated ticketing – what is it and when are we getting it?

by Daran Ponter
During the course of our community meetings on the Wellington Bus Review, people frequently asked: “When are we getting integrated ticketing?”.

In the context of the bus review, the discussion often started with:
• “Are you going to make us pay twice?”
• “What about a single ticket?”
• Haven’t you heard of integrated ticketing …. they do it is Melbourne you know …. I’ve been to London and….”
• “If you haven’t got integrated ticketing you can forget about hubbing.”

And of course they are right. Integrated ticketing is now a common and vital feature of most modern public transport systems and is long overdue in Wellington.

Integrated ticketing allows people to make a journey that involves transfers with a single ticket or an electronic card that is valid for the complete journey. The purpose of integrated ticketing is to encourage people to use public transport by simplifying switching between transport modes.

Integrated ticketing means that:
• people are not penalised for making transfers; and
• people are more likely to take transport, involving one or more transfers.

In most cases, integrated ticketing is made possible by electronic card technology, but it can be as simple as issuing a paper ticket providing that co-operation of transport operators can be secured.

Deploying integrated ticketing requires a high-level of coordination and co-operation between all public transport providers and both the technical services suppliers and the transport operators. It’s not cheap.

So what’s the story in Wellington?

Wellington has various forms of electronic ticketing but no integrated ticketing. This means that if you use the Go Wellington Bus Services you have one type of electronic card (Snapper). The Mana bus uses a different card system (the TravelCard) and the cable car uses a different electronic card again. The cross-harbour ferries are trialling the Snapper card. These card systems have been installed by the transport operators themselves with no sense of integration. The trains don’t have any form of electronic cards.

What we have then in Wellington is the possible basis for an integrated ticketing, based in part on the systems that are already in place with some operators. What we don’t have is the funding to implement an integrated ticketing system right now.

How Much for Integrated Ticketing in Wellington?

What sort of money are we talking about? In its draft Long Term Plan, the Greater Wellington Regional Council has put forward a budget $39million for integrated ticketing.
Why so much? This cost is based on a model that would see integrated electronic ticketing installed on all public transport in the Wellington region (trains, buses, ferries, cable car). It would potentially incorporate current electronic ticketing systems and involve the gating of railway stations.

It is the gating of railway stations that will be the big cost, and not one that in my view is yet justified. Apparently we have to have gated stations because the government will not agree to legislative change that would provide for electronic ticketing without gating. Legislative change is required if local authorities are to be able to police an honesty system but with high penalties.

Such systems, which are in operation in Europe, do not require the gating of stations but rely on the honesty of users to tag on and off at the beginning and end of their journeys. The simplicity of these systems is backed up by a stronger need for enforcement and higher penalties for transgressors. We don’t get to investigate this option in Wellington because apparently government officials say that the government will not amend the legislation that would otherwise provide for it.

As the New Zealand Transport Agency will be a significant funding partner in a Wellington Integrated ticketing system, we seem to have no choice but to comply. Short sighted I reckon!

So, what’s the hold up?

Apart from the cost, the difficulty largely comes in getting the New Zealand Transport Agency to release the funding for Wellington integrated electronic ticketing.

Wellington finds itself behind Auckland. The NZTA are involved in a large scale trial of integrated electronic ticketing in Auckland and will not release funds to other projects until the Auckland trial has been successfully concluded.

And things are not going all that well with the Auckland trial…http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10786678

At least Auckland are the guinea pigs for a system that one day will hopefully be applied throughout New Zealand – one card where ever you are!

Frustrated? Join the club!

What am I doing about it? I raise integrated ticketing on a regular basis with my Council colleagues. I have voted against public transport fare increases over the past two years, and will continue to do so until we have integrated electronic ticketing in place. Perhaps an odd stance to take …. but the Council needs to get the message to act more urgently on this issue. We should at least be actively planning for integrated ticketing rather than just waiting for the funds to arrive from the Transport Agency.

The litmus test will be the ability, with one card, to travel from Wellington Hospital to the Station, change to the train to Waikanae and change again for a bus to Otaki.

Daran Ponter is a councillor on the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

8 comments:

  1. Curtis Nixon, 8. April 2012, 20:40

    San Francisco – $2.00 flat fare around the city on subway, buses and street cars (trams), with unlimited transfers within 90 minutes. Paper or card.
    New York – $2.50 flat fare on subway and buses with unlimited transfers within 120 minutes. Paper or card (card has a 25 cent discount).

     
  2. Sridhar, 9. April 2012, 17:35

    Melbourne trains – If you reach the city centre before 7 am, no fare.

     
  3. Serge, 10. April 2012, 13:57

    I still cannot figure out what was bad about monthly tickets (before Go Wellington went on Snapper). “Snapper” is much greedier… isn’t it the answer?

     
  4. Mark Wong, 10. April 2012, 21:18

    Before we talk about this integrated ticketing which should have been introduced years ago – instead left up to the greedy Transport providers – how about we not hike the fares up. $4 from Miramar to the City is just plain greed.

    I agree with Serge, there was nothing wrong with the Gold Pass before they decided to replace it with a more expensive $140 30 day charge on a Snapper.

     
  5. Jonty, 10. April 2012, 21:56

    Daran,

    Thanks for pushing on this matter. Integrated ticketing is a must for effective public transport promotion, but it must be cheap to install and not add significantly to the cost of operation. It does not require gates on platforms. If guards can clip tickets they can carry a hand held device and read integrated electronic ticketing. I find it absurdly frustrating having to carry three cards just to get to work.

    However pricing is becoming an increasingly important issue – the low cost Melbourne and New York public transport models are what we should be aiming for not the expensive London model. Already price is such that unless I have a monthly train pass it is cheaper to travel in to the centre of the city by car than public transport on the weekends which is really counter-productive given that the trains and buses have plenty of spare capacity then.

     
  6. Phil C, 13. April 2012, 0:26

    Surprising that Wellington is so far behind given the relatively integrated nature of its public transport. I guess, however, you’ve sold off most local transport to private operators who will bugger around trying to avoid this sort of thing.

    A note on European capitals. Many do have gates, contrary to what you have said. If they do decide to put gates in Wellington please don’t let some crass Kiwi numbskull with no respect for architectural heritage (they abound in NZ, unfortunately) stuff up the gem that is Wellington Railway Station.

     
  7. Traveller, 13. April 2012, 8:57

    The cost of these gates is far more than Wellington can afford. There are better ways of spending such a large amount. And there are simpler and quicker ways of reintroducing integrated ticketing. I’ve seen gates in many European cities – they are often jammed and out of order, and active travellers just vault over the top of them.

     
  8. Nigel, 30. April 2012, 13:36

    The Snapper people claim their system is “integrated aware”, and technically they are right. Trouble is they only use it when it benefits the bus company … It wouldn’t be that hard or expensive to start by “integrating” the bus fares. The technology is all there, apparently.