Monthly bus pass to go to Snapper

19:56, Aug 25 2009

Go Wellington is preparing to scrap its monthly bus passes, forcing more customers to use the controversial Snapper card.

The bus company's spokeswoman Siobhan O'Donovan said the monthly gold passes would be phased out for Snapper this year but the timing, price and other details had not been decided.

It costs $99 for a monthly pass. The company would not say if the costs would change or if customers would have to bear the extra cost of moving on to Snapper.

A Snapper spokesman said the company would launch a monthly Snapper pass on bus routes in the Hutt Valley and Whitby through bus company Runcimans from August 31 and, if successful, would offer the scheme to Go Wellington.

"We expect them to do exactly what they've done with the existing bus pass and we will just transfer all of that functionality and all of that charging on to the Snapper card."

The reloadable debit card has been plagued with technical problems since it was introduced in July last year, as well as complaints of overcharging and a vote of no confidence from bus drivers.

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There were also complaints when 10-trip tickets were phased out last December because of the added $10 cost of buying a Snapper card and the 25 cent fee to load money on to it.

However, Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai said the company had sold nearly 100,000 cards, recorded over 10 million transactions and received an 85 per cent satisfaction rating from customers.

"Snapper has rapidly matured in the year since its launch."

Verina-Mary Busby catches the bus from Miramar every day and is opposed to having to buy a Snapper card and paying the loading charges.

"I'd be pretty brassed off actually. I prefer the gold card. You've got one outlay every month. You show the bus driver when you get on the bus and that's the end of it."

She expected more transparency from Go Wellington. "I think they should have come clean at the very beginning and said when they introduced these things that eventually the [monthly] card would be phased out. I don't like the idea at all but I don't know whether I can do anything about it."

Wellington Tramways Union president Nick Kelly expected larger queues and bus delays because more people would be swiping off when they leave the bus. "The gold passes are the easiest passes we've got."

A green Snapper for primary and intermediate children was introduced early this week.

The Dominion Post