Monday, 7 April 2014

Transport: Snapper on trains?

My Tranz Metro ten-trip (top) and Auckland AT "Hop" card.
In 2011, the government announced an investment of $88.4m in upgrading the infrastructure for Wellington's metro rail network. We're now seeing results from this investment, with patronage growing in the Hutt Valley. I've previously said it's time stations in the Rimutaka electorate were upgraded - and the Upper Hutt City Council along with the Greater Wellington Regional Council are working together to deliver this outcome.

What else can be done? Rising patronage creates a new problem, in that the old-fashioned way passengers are charged for their trips in Wellington doesn't work when trains are experiencing higher patronage. In other words, ticket collectors can't move around the carriages to collect fares or clip tickets. Back in 2011, GWRC estimated this was costing them (or more correctly us, as ratepayers) $9,000 a day in lost fares. Since fares account for 47% of Tranz Metro's revenue, that's a fair chunk of the money needed to keep public transport running.

Luckily, the solution already exists. Snapper, the equivalent to Auckland Transport's (AT) card is already in use on Wellington's buses. The iconic Wellington Cable Car was added to Snapper's network following an announcement on 24 February. Add Tranz Metro to the mix would mean that for the first time you could get on a bus, for example, in Timberlea to Upper Hutt Railway Station, and use the same card again to pay for the train into Wellington.

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