Infratil's smartcard unit Snapper Services says it won't pay a $4 million damages claim from Auckland Transport over alleged delays in the city's new $98m integrated ticketing system.
Auckland Transport has called in its lawyers over claims Snapper, which supplies electronic bus cards to its sister company NZBus, will fail to meet a November deadline for the ticketing service.
Concerns have been raised over Snapper's ability to make its cards and readers, already operating on 650 buses, compatible with other elements of Auckland's Hop system.
Auckland Transport last week sent a letter to Snapper claiming it had breached its supply agreement and will be liable for costs for delays of up to $4m.
Snapper chairwoman Rhoda Phillippo told Business Day the firm would deliver its response to Auckland Transport's lawyers last night.
''We refute their allegations and confirm our commitment to deliver this project to time,'' she said.
Snapper had received no public funding for its part in the project and had developed its system from its own resources, she said.
''We were quite frankly flabbergasted at the scale of the costs that go elsewhere and do not believe any of the costs go to Snapper's account.''
Auckland Transport's legal claim follows long-standing concern over Snapper's role in Auckland's integrating ticketing system.
The original contract to deliver an integrated system was awarded to French multinational group Thales in December 2009, in preference to a bid from Snapper which already had a system in place in Wellington.
Former Snapper director Paul Ridley-Smith was reportedly furious at missing out, telling the NZ Herald at the time: ''We're not going to plug into Thales. We have a perfectly functional, 100 per cent effective, totally integrated ticketing system, so why would you build another one?''
A year later Snapper signed a participation agreement with Auckland Transport to deliver a smartcard system on its Auckland buses that would link with the Thales system, providing seamless access to rail and ferry services.
Auckland Transport declined to comment on the dispute yesterday, save to confirm it had ''sought urgent assurances from Snapper on delivery of various contractual commitments in their agreement with Auckland Transport, including their delivery of a compliant integrated ticketing card reading facility on NZ Bus to whom they are the selected supplier.''
The Government has contributed $42m toward the ticketing project and has signalled it is prepared to remove NZBus's 600 vehicles from Auckland's roads if the deadline is not met.
- © Fairfax NZ News