AT HOP card
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The AT HOP card is an electronic ticketing card that was released in two versions on Auckland public transport services, beginning in May 2011. The smart card roll out was the first phase in the introduction of an integrated ticketing and fares system (Auckland Integrated Fares System, or "AIFS") that is being rolled out across the region.
An AT HOP card is a dark blue credit-card-sized stored-value contactless smartcard that can hold prepaid funds (called HOP Money) to pay for fares or monthly passes for unlimited travel on buses and trains within one or more of three "transport zones". Both facilities must be added to the card before travel. Passengers "tag on" and "tag off" their card on electronic terminals when entering and leaving the transport system in order to validate it or deduct funds. Cards may be "topped-up" or monthly passes purchased online, at ticket machines or at ticketing offices by credit or debit card, with the latter two mediums offering cash purchases. The card is designed to reduce the number of transactions at ticket offices and the number of paper tickets. Usage is encouraged by offering cheaper fares than the paper ticketed option, although there is a fee to purchase the card. Monthly and/or multiple trip travel is only available with the AT HOP card.
The first iteration of the HOP card – now commonly referred to as the "purple HOP card" following its discontinuation – was replaced in 2012 following delivery issues with key technologies of the first system. The current card, called AT HOP, is in use on all ferry, train and bus services in Auckland. The rollout of AT HOP was completed in March 2014.
In 2008, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority announced its intentions to develop an integrated ticketing system for the region's public transport services, called the Auckland Integrated Fares System (AIFS).
An initial system developed with a consortium including the French Thales Group and New Zealand-based Snapper Services was announced in 2010, however subsequent difficulties with the development of technologies for the system saw the termination of Auckland Transport's agreement with Snapper. The council-controlled organisation confirmed Thales would be contracted with ongoing development of the system across the entirety of the region's transport network.
A fee of 25 cents for topping up cards was abolished in July 2014.
Snapper Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Infratil, made a joint bid with ANZ, New Zealand Post, Eyede, Unisys and Beca Group for the contract of developing Auckland's integrated ticketing system. However, the contract was awarded to the Thales Group. Snapper lodged a complaint, later dismissed, questioning the legitimacy of the tender process.
Snapper announced in late-2009 that it would begin rolling out its Snapper card onto all NZ Bus services, in spite of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority-Thales integrated ticketing arrangement. In response, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority called the Snapper announcement "premature" citing the development of ARTA's integrated ticketing offering still in development with Thales and confirming that all public transport operators in Auckland, including NZ Bus, would be required to participate in ARTA's system. Replacing the Auckland Regional Transport Authority in 2010, Auckland Transport announced it had invited Snapper to work with the council-controlled organisation and Thales on the ticketing system. Auckland Transport confirmed Snapper would develop a contactless smart card and supply buses with ticketing terminals that would support the Thales developed back-end, to be rolled out initially on NZ Bus services and later on ferry and train services in time for the Rugby World Cup 2011.
In April 2011, Auckland Transport announced the "HOP card", developed by Snapper, with initial rollout on all NZ Bus services. This iteration of the "HOP card" was met with initial confusion as to its capabilities and the extent of Auckland Transport's integration with Snapper and Snapper's pre-existing infrastructure, which included the ability to make minor transactions with merchants and retailers. Concerns were also raised as to the ability of Auckland's ticketing system to work with Snapper cards used on Wellington's transport network and vice-versa, with Auckland Transport later instructing NZ Bus drivers not to accept the Wellington implementation of the Snapper card.
Auckland Transport subsequently announced in early-2012 that bus passengers would be required to "swap out" their HOP/Snapper cards for a new integrated ticketing card, also called "HOP", as the Snapper offering would not be supported on ferries, trains and on some bus services.
Snapper faced difficulties in developing its technology to work with the Thales system, with Thales' New Zealand chief executive citing that the "failure of Snapper to deliver a functional bus system that meets the ratified standard has caused delays to project go-live". Snapper's "failure" to meet the November 30 deadline imposed by Auckland Transport ultimately led to the organisation severing its relationship with Snapper, citing "concerns about whether Snapper could modify its system in a suitable timeframe". Snapper maintained it was "wrongly blamed" for the delays, declaring “Auckland Transport is being disingenuous with its attempt to position Snapper as the reason that the [integrated ticketing] project is delayed."
Auckland Transport confirmed it had commissioned Thales to provide the new iteration of the "HOP" smart card – called "AT HOP" – and its ticketing terminals, replacing the HOP/Snapper offering on NZ Bus services and introducing the new card onto ferries, trains and other bus services.
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