Posted by: Gregory | June 15, 2015

Will we ever see integrated ticketing?

Travelling around the Wellington region has been hampered by competing operators and modes. Having a single ticket to take passengers from A to B regardless of distance and mode has been a goal for a generation or two and no one at Greater Wellington Regional Council has been able to progress the agenda beyond the investigation phase. The latest set of papers going to tomorrow’s full council meeting indicates that we’re still not getting anywhere.

The first thing that I noticed was a mention about changing the budget relating to integrated ticketing.

GW LTP 2015 Rebudget 1

This was accompanied with a slightly redundant description.

GW LTP 2015 Rebudget 2Two appendices accompany the paper add a little bit of information. The first looks at the operating expenses being changed.

GW LTP 2015 Rebudget A1

And the second looks at changes to capital expenditure.

GW LTP 2015 Rebudget A2

Investigation started late and expected to take longer than anticipated. This is after a phase of waiting for Auckland to sort out its HOP system and after a phase of sitting idly while operators argued over who got which pennies from passengers that needed to cross the gap.

Coincident to this is the release of NZTA Research Report 569 Public transport and the next generation. As noted by Auckland Transport Blog, there’s a difference between Auckland’s and Wellington’s interest in integrated ticketing:

The report also breaks this down by different region presenting interesting comparisons, for example in Wellington Integrated Ticketing is in the top two for the two groups while in Auckland it is 7th or 8th which will reflect the fact that Auckland already has integrated ticketing rolled out.

Looking into the report, we see that, for Wellington, both Generation Y and the control group are clamouring for integrated ticketing.


So how much longer are we going to have to wait?


  1. Thank you Gregory. Like yourself I make oral submissions to Greater Wellington’s Economic Welfare Committee among others.

    Last time I presented to the Transport Committee and addressed integrated ticketing I asked for a National Scheme rather then a regional one. The current bus contracts with Infratil NZBus have given the operator all the power to run a system of their choice providing it presents the commuter with a valid ticket of sorts. Paul Swain said changes are a foot but not until 2017 when the contracts expire and ultimately the trolley bus gets the boot..

    • There should be plenty of changes to discuss with the new contracts. In the meantime, the operators have far too much decision-making power over service levels.

      If I understand correctly, the integrated ticketing scheme is meant to have a nationally standardised interface at one of the levels. My assumption was to allow passengers to have a level of portability with their smartcards (HOP/Snapper/Whatever). Whether I’m overly optimistic or not remains to be seen. I should probably ask MoT/NZTA about this.

  2. Many thanks Greg for extracting the relevant lines. The roll out of integrated ticketing is painful to watch.

    Eight years ago, Council voted to for implementation of Real Time Information ahead of integrated ticketing. Once integrated ticketing was on the long term plan, it then was repeatedly deferred so as to allow Auckland’s system to be completed as the initial step towards a national ticketing system. The present delays are related to work load with prioritisation of new tenders for rail and bus, development of BRT business plan, and procurement policy for hybrid (double decker?) buses. WCC also appears to be “on the go slow” with no visible progress on designating priority lanes, bus stops, phased lights etc, it may or may not be political!

    I have a list of 6 transport items that came out of submissions to the LTP,
    and these have been placed on the workshop agenda, amongst these is a law change to make a passenger responsible for purchase of right ticket for journey, which will potentially reduce the cost of integrated ticketing, if gating of Wellington railway station is removed as part of the scheme rollout.

    • Is this a resourcing problem then? Not enough staffing to do the necessary work?

  3. Thank you Paul, I hope the integrated ticketing is delayed again while both Auckland & Wellington Councils take the case for a law change to government. Then we can afford real integrated ticketing – and make it compulsory for any company that wants to access fare subsidies.

    Cost savings for Wellington are $40m if we do not have to install auto ticket gates on train stations, and the savings must be even higher for Auckland. Rapid all-door loading of buses and trams means we must make it the passenger’s responsibility to have a ticket, and appropriate forms of ticket for regular users. Trams and buses will need a swipe device or ‘cash-ticket’ dispenser for casual users and tourists. But we also need to change our cheating culture by imposing high fines for no ticket during random inspections. It works in Europe so why not NZ?

    • Why would it be necessary to delay integrated ticketing for the enforcement model? I don’t see the dependency.

  4. It didn’t work in London Ian: the three door bendi-buses were nicknamed the free buses.

    • When you rely on enforcement, there will always be an amount of fare evasion. Pricing the penalty high and having visible policing will keep evasion down, but it getting 100% payment is prohibitively expensive.

      When I was living in Calgary, the penalty for not having a $2 fare was $135, from memory. People were often caught trying it on, but it was probably close to revenue-neutral.

  5. I too am amazed at how long it has taken WCC/GWRC to implement unified ticketing. Adelaide & Melbourne have both had integrated ticketing for over 20 years – Melbourne’s was using paper tickets with punches in them initially, although I gather their newer electronic system is a shambles (in part because every ticket purchase has to be verified by a central server, unlike Snapper which carries the authority on the card).

    The excellent book “Human Transit” by Jarrett Walker covers many topics related to public transport (I have a Kindle copy), including ticketing. His observation is that the majority of cross operator trips are paired (there and back again) so the most effective method is bill and keep, rather then trying to work out who earns what percentage of any given ticket, because the percentages are going to be reversed for the return ticket. Period passes are a different issue of course.
    Human Transit also hints very strongly that the Wellington public transport network operations are revenue driven rather than service driven.

    • My understanding is that operators were fighting over percentages of Platinum Passes already.

      I recall Ian mentioning that Freiberg allocated revenue based on route-km percentage for the network, which made the calculations easy.

  6. Another good article Gregory and good follow-up comments. One concern I have is the apparent cost increase for Wellington Integrated ticketing.

    Page 77 of current 2014 Regional PT Plan (Link at the bottom of their web page states:

    “Table 4: Indicative GWRC infrastructure expenditure between 2014 and 2020
    * Integrated fares and ticketing
    o Indicative capital cost 2014 to 2020: $39 million
    o Indicative start date: 2014 to 2015”

    Integrated ticket has long been stated to cost $39M

    But page 4 of the Nov 2014 Update Report to create the 2015 Regional PT Plan ( states:

    “Table of Significant Activities in Prioritised Order
    Rank: 11
    Activity: Wellington Integrated Fares and Ticketing
    Brief Description: Implementing a fares and ticketing system that supports
    the integration of the public transport network
    6 year estimated cost ($m): 74.96”

    Other more reports reflect this new, higher, cost of $75M.

    So, as well as being delayed (again) the 5-6 year cost of implementing Wellington’s integrated ticketing seems to have DOUBLED but few have noticed. This is a huge cost for a PT commuter base of under 40,000/day. Is it really worth spending around $2,000 per commuter just for the ticketing system ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: