Snapper will not rule out installing its smartcard system on parent Infratil's 705 Auckland buses, despite probably missing out on a deal to provide an integrated ticketing system to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.
The authority announced last week that it had selected a consortium led by French technology firm Thales as its preferred supplier of a system that would let passengers pay for bus, train and ferry travel using a single smartcard. The system is due to be ready in two to three years.
The New Zealand Transport Agency, which would pay for 60 per cent of the project, hopes the Auckland system will become the rump of a "national integrated ticketing programme".
Transport Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield says it "is not starting from a blank sheet of paper", acknowledging existing investment in smart ticketing systems in Wellington and Christchurch.
The agency said that its approach would "provide the potential for individual public transport operators to decide which electronic ticketing or smartcard system best meets their business needs".
Snapper Services chief executive Miki Szikszai would not say whether he believed that gave Snapper the green light to install its system on Auckland buses, regardless of the outcome of the Auckland tender. "We are obviously considering the wide range of options," he said.
After apparently conciliatory comments in the wake of Arta's announcement that it had selected Thales for Auckland, Mr Szikszai questioned the rationale for the investment of tens of millions of dollars by the Transport Agency.
Snapper is believed to have offered to extend Snapper to Auckland at no cost to taxpayers.
"There is a really important question which is not being asked, which is, `Why is an investment being made into a system when one already exists?' There was a statement made by NZTA saying they didn't want to invest into a system twice, and I think we should ask why they are investing once?"
The agency says there are several smartcard-based bus ticketing systems in New Zealand.
"Arta have sought a proven system that will also support rail ticketing." It would report on the appropriate process for operators to fund and provide their own equipment.
SNAPPER IN TAXIS
Snapper will be installed in all 1000 taxis in the Wellington region early next year, says Snapper Services chief executive Miki Szikszai.
The agreement follows a decision by Greater Wellington regional council to issue Snapper cards to 7500 disabled people, who cannot use public transport, for use in taxis.
The council pays for their taxi travel under its Total Mobility programme, costing $2.2 million a year, which is paper-based.
Transport and access committee chairman Peter Glensor says the new system will be far more user-friendly for clients.
Mr Szikszai says Snapper terminals will need to be adapted for use in taxis. Once they are installed, the public, as well as those enrolled in the Total Mobility scheme, will be able to pay for journeys using Snapper.