AT HOP card

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AT HOP card
AT Hop card.jpg
AT HOP card
LaunchedOctober 2012; 7 years ago (2012-10)
ManagerThales Group
Stored-valuePay as you go
  • Trains
  • Fullers ferries
  • Auckland buses
  • Online
  • Ticket offices

The AT HOP card is an electronic fare payment 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 was rolled out across the region.[1][2]

The first iteration of the card – commonly referred to as the "purple HOP card" – was discontinued in 2012 because of issues with the delivery of key technologies. The current card, called the AT HOP card, is in use on all ferry, train and bus services in Auckland.[3] The rollout of the card to all three transport modes was completed in March 2014.[4]

Card operation[edit]

The 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 for monthly passes for unlimited travel within one or more of three "transport zones". Either facility 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 in the following ways: online, at ticket machines, at ticketing offices, and at selected retail outlets such as bookshops. Top ups may be made by credit or debit card, with the latter three mediums accepting cash payment. 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 cash ticket option, although there is an initial once-only fee to purchase the card. Monthly and/or multiple trip travel is only available with the AT HOP card.

The card can be used only for fare payments and only on Auckland Transport routes; it cannot be used to pay for refreshments or other items. It cannot be used to pay for travel on the Northern Explorer passenger train running between Auckland and Wellington or on inter-city bus services.

The AT HOP cards are based on near field communication (NFC) with DESFire with support of 3DES and AES, enabling 168-128 bit keys. This encryption give card holders the ability to not have their card simply cloned.[citation needed]


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.

HOP/Snapper card debacle[edit]

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.[5] However, the contract was awarded to the Thales Group. Snapper lodged a complaint, later dismissed, questioning the legitimacy of the tender process.[6]

The first iteration of the HOP card supplied by Snapper could be used on NZ Bus services only.

Snapper announced in late-2009 that it would begin rolling out its Snapper card onto NZ Bus services (but no other Auckland bus company or service),[7] in spite of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority-Thales integrated ticketing arrangement. In response, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority called the Snapper announcement "premature"[8] 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.[9] 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,[10] 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[11] 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[12] 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.[13]

Snapper faced difficulties in developing its technology to work with the Thales system,[14] 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,[15] citing "concerns about whether Snapper could modify its system in a suitable timeframe". Snapper maintained it was "wrongly blamed" for the delays,[16] 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 all other bus services.[15]


AT HOP pilot card

The current blue 'AT HOP card' began rolling out on public transport, starting with the rail network on 28 October 2012.[17] The rollout for all Auckland bus, train and ferry services was completed by March 2014.[18]

Spark (then Telecom) had trialed a 'virtual AT HOP card' on Android phones with NFC and intended it for release in late 2013.[19]

Post-launch operation[edit]

A fee of 25 cents for each top up was abolished in July 2014.[20]

In September 2016, it was reported that the one millionth AT Hop card had been sold, and that 42 per cent of Auckland adults had a card as of June 2016.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (10 May 2011). "Hop card passes first road test". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  2. ^ Pollard, Will (25 October 2012). "Auckland's new HOP card - one step closer to an integrated system". 3 News NZ. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  3. ^ "AT HOP FAQs". Auckland Transport. Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Auckland Transport completes AT HOP rollout". 25 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Snapper to make a splash". 21 April 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  6. ^ O'Neill, Rob (22 June 2009). "Probity review dismisses Snapper tender complaint". Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Snapper to enter Auckland market in 2010". 1 December 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  8. ^ "ARTA calls Snapper announcement 'premature'". 1 December 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Auckland Transport announces key development for Integrated Ticketing". 16 December 2010. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Here Comes HOP". 6 April 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  11. ^ Rudman, Brian (11 April 2011). "Brian Rudman: Hop or Snapper it's enough to make your head spin". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Bus drivers set for battle over Snapper". 18 April 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Hop off - bus cards have to be replaced". 16 January 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Unified ticket 'being held up by bus firms'". 7 May 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Snapper Services out of integrated ticketing". 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 30 August 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  16. ^ "Snapper media release". 24 August 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  17. ^ "All change for train ticket system". Stuff. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  18. ^ "Auckland Transport completes AT HOP rollout". 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Telecom gets on ticketing train". NZ Herald. 2012-09-25. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  20. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (13 June 2014). "Auckland transport cash fares to increase". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Auckland Transport sells millionth AT HOP card". NZ Herald. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.