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Queenstown bus users will benefit from single payment system

Oct 21, 2022

The government has revealed major changes to the way people will pay for public transport across the country.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood announced a $1.3 billion public transport single payment system in Auckland today.

The signing of the National Ticketing Solution contract with supplier Cubic means New Zealanders will soon be able to use a single payment system across all public transport networks.

People will be able to pay for bus, train and ferry trips using contactless credit or debit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

"This is a key milestone in the journey to grow public transport use by providing a single payment system and a range of easy-to-use payment methods, no matter where you are in the country," Wood said.

"This new technology will allow daily weekly and monthly fare caps to be applied to travel automatically, meaning customers will be charged the best possible fare at the end of each day.

"It will also mean that when travelling to a new town people will be able to pay using what's already in their pocket, rather than having to buy a transit card specific to that region or fumble for cash."

Minister of Transport Michael Wood says the new technology means when customers swipe on, they will automatically get the best deal possible for the day. Photo: RNZ / Mohammad Alafeshat

The new system would be rolled out across the country in stages, starting with Canterbury in 2024.

The timeline for the one-card-fits-all public transport system had been pushed back by at least six months for all other regions, until 2026.

There is an overall allocation for the system over the next 15 years of around $1.3b.

Waka Kotahi chief executive Nicole Rosie said this was the first time a solution of this nature would be rolled out nationally.

"We would be paying multiple times for multiple solutions if we don't have this service.

"We know that people use public transport when it's convenient and easy to use, this would just make it really easy."

Wood said it was "one of the most significant announcements for the future of public transport in Aotearoa New Zealand for many years".

"To encourage public transport as the preferred travel choice for more people, more often, we must invest in modern technologies to improve the customer experience," he said.

A major perk of the system was that when users swiped on, they would automatically get the best deal possible for that day, Wood said.

The participating areas are Auckland, greater Wellington, Canterbury, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Gisborne, Manawatū-Whanganui, Hawke's Bay, Nelson, Otago and Invercargill.

Reports released to RNZ under an Official Information Act (OIA) request showed Waka Kotahi had "critical" problems both in getting enough skilled workers, and in coping with planned technological developments.

The agency's technology risk rating has been stuck at "critical" since it introduced the measure in 2018-19.

"A critical risk rating means that it is possible the Transport Agency's technology systems may stop performing, in part or whole, and may not be recoverable for extended periods (weeks or months), with extreme consequences," an annual report said.

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