Auckland transport smartcard agreement finally signed

BY TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 07:11 08/12/2009

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A contract to supply an integrated ticketing system for Auckland that should let people pay for bus, train and ferries journeys with a single smartcard has been signed by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (Arta), a year later than expected.

French technology company Thales will lead the project, while its partner, Hong Kong firm Octopus, will supply the back-end systems.

Arta said the capital cost would be $47 million. It did not disclose running costs.

Thales' rival Infratil said these had previously been budgeted at $65m over 10 years.

Most of the upfront cost will be met by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which hoped other cities could reuse some parts of the system.

Arta chairman Rabin Rabindran said Auckland had bought a proven and mature integrated ticketing system after a "long and often challenging process".

Infratil subsidiary Snapper Services, which bid unsuccessfully for the Auckland contract and contested Thales' selection as a preferred bidder, announced last month that it would install Snapper card readers on most Auckland buses, owned by another Infratil subsidiary, NZ Bus.

The Transport Agency will hold a meeting today to try to develop a technology standard that could ensure Thales' and Snapper's smartcards could be used on buses without the installation of two separate sets of smartcard readers.

Snapper chairman Paul Ridley- Smith said it wanted to roll Snapper out nationally but was "so far ahead of the game, that no national standards yet exist".

"Multiple suppliers meeting a national need is the most likely way things will develop, and today's announcement by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority makes no difference to this vision. Why Arta wants to persevere with building a duplicate system . . . when it is also looking for ways of cutting public expenditure on public transport, is a question only they can answer."

Transport Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said the agency was working with equipment suppliers, transport operators and regional councils to set the technical standards "to be met by all".

Thales' smartcards will be supplied by Bank of New Zealand. Like Snapper, it is possible they might be used for small purchases in shops.

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- The Dominion Post

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