It has not been an easy first year for Go Wellington's controversial Snapper card system.
It was intended to be a simple way to catch the bus, but has been plagued by teething problems and technical glitches. Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai said issues with the card had been resolved and the system was running well.
However, the card has been dogged by complaints since its inception last July. There were problems when the card was introduced because many customers did not realise its $10 price tag did not actually enable them to travel on the bus.
Last September Consumer New Zealand complained that customers were being overcharged, or charged for routes they had not taken, and were being denied bus access when cards failed. In April, more than 100 people were overcharged for journeys owing to a computer glitch, one passenger being charged $97 for a $2.25 trip.
Last month the discount for Snapper users was decreased from 25 per cent to 20 per cent, rousing complaints of a "stealth" fare increase from some bus users.
Wellington solicitor and regular Snapper user Dana Maniapoto said she was concerned by the lack of information available to bus users. "I'm not clear whether it's charging correctly," she said. "With Snapper I am never sure." Maniapoto said while she accepted the decrease in discount, if the discount went down again she would not continue using Snapper cards.
Victoria University student Stephen Hedges said it was "silly" that the system showed him his Snapper balance only when it was down to $10. He was never sure how much money he had left on his card. "If I was overcharged I didn't really notice because they don't tell you," he said.
The cards can be used at various retail outlets and cafes as an alternative to eftpos or cash. However, lack of security has caused concern. The cards don't have a Pin, a name or unique information other than the serial number.
Regular Snapper user Terina Thompson said the lack of security was her major issue with Snapper. ''If it did get misplaced or taken I'm unable to get it cancelled, especially if I'm putting on $60 or more,'' she said.
Snapper's Szikszai said there had been a programme of development since Snapper's introduction, and the glitches in the system had been worked out.
He said complaints from customers that it was hard to work out the balance on their cards were ''confusing''. Szikszai said the cards had no Pin because they were intended for fast, easy transactions. He advised that they should be used only for purchases of less than $35. He said the cards could also be easily registered, which would allow for cancellation and replacement if lost or stolen.
Contrary to information currently on Snapper's website which forecasts a price increase to $15 Szikszai said the $10 price to buy a Snapper card would not be increasing ''at any point in the future''.
He said the Snapper system also enabled a complete reconciliation of earnings for the company. This resulted in nine bus drivers being sacked recently after accusations they had been stealing bus fares.
Soon transfer tickets, child fares and other types of ticket, such as daytripper passes, would be payable by Snapper.
NZ Bus general operations manager Zane Fulljames would not comment, but a company spokesperson said that even with the decrease in the Snapper discount, it was still the same cost as the previous 10-trip ticket