Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Lessons from Auckland: Tapping in and out when using buses actually works.

I was in New Zealand at the end of August. During my time there, I had the pleasure of having Darren Davis of Auckland Transport give me a tour of Auckland. The tour focused on the region’s transportation network, land-use, and their interactions. Over the next little while, I will be sharing my observations from New Zealand and how they could be applied in Metro Vancouver.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest region, and its largest city. Auckland used to consist of seven municipalities and a regional authority, sort of like the structure of Metro Vancouver. The national government decided to collapse the municipalities and regional authority several years ago into what is now Auckland Council.

Auckland Transport is like a super-charged TransLink. The agency is responsible for the whole transportation network in the region from sidewalks and local roads, to public transit. State highways are controlled by the national government. Auckland Transport is arms-length like TransLink with its directors appointed by Auckland Council and the national government. With these similarity, there are some best practices in Auckland that could be applied in our region.

One of the first things that I was curious about was their HOP card system. The HOP card is like the Compass Card.

Auckland Transport has a zone-based fare system. It also requires that people tap in and tap off when using buses, trains, and ferries.

If you recall, TransLink was having issues with people not tapping off the bus correctly and/or forgetting to tap off. They ended up scrapping zones and tapping off on buses to launch the system.

In Auckland, the HOP card readers are slower than the Compass Card readers on buses. Auckland Transport still insists that people tap on and tap off. They also created some highly visible reminds.

Auckland Transport HOP card reader. Remember to Tag Off. Select image to enlarge.

Auckland Transport “Please Tag Off” notice on bus door. Select impact to enlarge.

Another example of an Auckland Transport HOP card reader.

This never happened in Metro Vancouver. TransLink was very cautious and sensitive to rider's initial challenges when it launched the Compass Card system. If people forget to tap off in Auckland, they get charged the maximum fare. New Zealanders don’t like mucking around, and I was told that if you forget to tap off, you’ll learn your lesson for next time.

Darren did note that for busy bus routes like the 99 B-Line, off-bus readers would be needed at busy stops. Here is an example of an off-bus reader which allows people to tap on before boarding buses in Seattle.

Tap your ORCA Card at the curb before boarding a bus in Seattle. Select image to enlarge.

Auckland Transport's slower HOP card system shows that it is possible to have people tap on and off when using buses. It just takes some training, maybe a lessons learned, and a good amount of reminders.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to know how they used the HOP system, unfortunately I think the ship has sailed for Translink on that for Compass.