Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:
Wellington needs cheap, reliable public transport to arrest its declining use and get more cars off our congested roads.
Instead, the Greater Wellington Regional Council plans to spend more to get less; and not for the first time.
Those wretchedly inaccurate Real Time Information Boards cost $13 million, when a smart phone app would have cost less than $100,000.
$13 million for info boards? God.
The regional council has also spent more than $500m upgrading the trains, with no increase in patronage.
Now the regional council has its sights on Snapper.
They want to adopt Auckland’s integrated HOP card ticketing system at a cost of up to $50m next year and $5m each following year.
It’s hard to understand the reason; clearly its vision for public transport doesn’t seem to involve the public as the Snapper has become part of the capital’s DNA, even though it’s only been around since 2008.
The regional council’s preference for Auckland’s notorious HOP card is yet another incomprehensible addition to its track record of bad public transport investments that have driven up fares while driving down patronage.
I use Snapper all the time. It’s great. To spend $50 million on a new system is nuts.
Snapper captured Wellingtonians’ imaginations, but it’s also a great deal for both ratepayers and taxpayers as it costs us nothing.
The bus operator absorbs Snapper’s costs, just like the cost of fuel and drivers’ wages.
There are significant differences between the Snapper and HOP cards, none of which make HOP more appealing.
It’s been so hopeless that many consider Auckland’s decision to buy it akin to buying a pig in a poke. Snapper operates an open platform, so it can be easily adapted to changing customer needs and rapidly changing technology – important when so many are using smartphones.
Snapper can be used on the bus, taxi, to pay for car parks, and even a flat white; some businesses now use Snapper as an ID or access card. It’s just been selected as the engine room behind Dublin’s public transport Leap Card.
And the HOP card? It has only one use: paying a fare.
So a worse system for more money.
Rather than talking of mind-numbing figures in the millions, think of it this way: switching to the HOP card will cost about $100,000 per bus, train and ferry in the Greater Wellington region, plus another $10,000 for every vehicle in Wellington’s public transport fleet, including trains, buses and the two harbour ferries. A new diesel bus costs about $400,000.