Bus drivers set for battle over Snapper

The bus drivers' union fears Wellingtonians could get into arguments with Auckland bus drivers after the Auckland transport authority said it expected drivers to stop passengers from using red Snapper cards that have been issued in the capital to pay Auckland bus fares.

Auckland Transport said it expected people to use only Hop-branded Snapper cards, costing $10.

These will be accepted on NZ Bus services in Auckland later this month, providing a 10 to 17 per cent discount on adult cash fares.

They would not be allowed to use red Snapper cards on Auckland buses, even though they were identical to Hop cards, apart from the words and pictures printed on the plastic.

NZ Bus would not comment on whether it expected its drivers to try to enforce the ban.

But Wellington Tramways Union president Nick Kelly believed that would be impractical and most bus drivers would not bother to try as it would probably lead to "unnecessary conflict".

"If you have got people 'tagging on' you don't really get a chance to look at them, and the whole point of the system is that drivers need to have less interaction with passengers," Mr Kelly said.

Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said the Hop-branded Snapper cards could only be used to pay for public transport in Auckland until later this year, when Auckland Transport would replace them free-of-charge with a new type of Hop payment card that would also work on ferries and trains.

That card might in turn be phased out later in favour of a third type of payment card that could be used on public transport nationwide.

Ms Hunter said the decision to ban the use of red Snapper cards on Auckland buses was for "simplicity and clarity for both customers, bus drivers and other customer-facing staff".

The Dominion Post