New smart card hits Auckland in time for RWC

Auckland is promising to roll out smart cards to replace public transport ticketing in time for Rugby World Cup.

The new "HOP" card promises faster and easier boarding of buses, trains and ferries.

It is set to roll out on May 8 and will replace all existing bus cards over the next few weeks.

Bus users are being told the introduction of the card should bring savings of 10% off normal cash fares.

Auckland Transport's chief executive David Warburton says it is a "tremendous step forward" for Auckland's public transport system.

"For the first time in Auckland's history we are on the move towards a fully integrated multi-operator smartcard with bus, rail and ferry."

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the new smartcards will make the ever-growing public transport system more convenient.

"The HOP card and integrated ticketing is one of the keys to continuing the surge in the growth in public transport patronage in Auckland.

"It is just another measure we are taking to make public transport more convenient, cost effective, comfortable and faster."

NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames says there will be an inevitable period of adjustment but he is confident HOP will overcome any initial speedbumps without too much impact on travellers.

"We appreciate this is going to be a period of change for our customers. We are confident they will quickly adapt to HOP and realise the benefits of faster boarding and improved reliability."

The second stage of the integration to the public transport system will begin at the end of the year with HOP introduced to trains and the Devonport ferry service.

By 2012, HOP cards will be used on all rail, bus and ferry services. They will be available from retail outlets on May 2.