'Stealth' fare increase claim against Snapper

21:27, Apr 26 2009

Bus passengers who use the controversial Snapper card are about to be snapped themselves - with a fare increase under the guise of a reduced discount.

Go Wellington will bring in new Snapper fares in June, nine months after the smart card was introduced as a means of paying for bus travel in the capital.

Snapper users were initially given a 25 per cent discount on the cash prices of a single adult fare. That discount will shrink to 20 per cent on June 1 - effectively increasing fares.

The new discount will be the same as that once offered on the 10-trip ticket, made obsolete when Snapper cards were introduced amid controversy last year.

The card will become more expensive than the original 10-trip ticket: it costs $10 to buy, and 25 cents every time more money is "fed" on to the card as credit.

Snapper user Kevin Franklin said the discount reduction was "a stealth way to increase the prices". "Even though they might not say 'we are raising the bus prices' they just decrease the discount."

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More than 50,000 people now use the Snapper cards, which when introduced were fraught with problems, including over-charging passengers, charging people for trips they did not make and not working on some routes.

Many users were upset that the 10-trip ticket was phased out, complaining that they had to pay to get a Snapper card and were charged each time they put more money on it.

Zane Fulljames, general manager of operations for NZ Bus, confirmed in a statement that the discount would be reduced at the end of next month.

He said the Snapper "still represents good value for our customers".

However, he was unavailable to comment on why the change was being made.

Greater Wellington regional council, which contracts its bus services to Go Wellington, said it had nothing to do with the reduced discount.

All regional council transport operators must offer a discount of at least 20 per cent on multi-trip tickets. A council spokesperson said Go Wellington would have been absorbing the extra cost since Snapper was introduced.

The Dominion Post