Auckland had a history of being well served by public transport but in 1950, the decision was made to dismantle their widespread tram network and reject plans to electrify the rail network. By contrast more money was invested in motorways which led to a devastating fall in public ridership. A lack of political interest in public transport had by the 2000s left Auckland with substantially underused and underfunded bus and rail systems. In recent years new projects have been undertaken to improve public transport and encourage more to use rail infrastructure. In an effort to improve the overall experience for rail customers, Auckland Transport will be employing Transport Officers and installing new electronic ticketing gates at more stations across the city.
The new legislation is expected to provide Transport Officers with warranted powers to enforce fare payment for everyone travelling on Auckland’s ( @AklTransport ) trains, they will be able to issue infringement notices to fare evaders as well as provide assistance to customers. The electronic gates will be activated with the use of the AT HOP card or a paper ticket. There will also be a gate line for passengers who have not yet paid a fare for their journey.
Group Manager AT Metro Operations Brendon Main says AT recently announced a package of customer service and safety improvements under its Safety and Fare Enforcement (SaFE) project. This includes more electronic gates and the testing of a new role on the rail network. The Transport Officer role has been created in response to legislation due to be passed by Parliament next month.
Majority of all New Zealand’s public transport network is expected to become part of a single ticket-free network with similar payment technology using integrated ticketing. Auckland however has its own smartcard system called 'Hop card' which will be the only exception. A nationwide public transport payment system has been on the Government's proposals for some time, but not before 2026.
“The new electronic ticketing gates and the initial employment of 18 Transport Officers will improve safety while discouraging fare evasion. It is a serious issue for AT with a number of customers not paying for their tickets or not tagging on with their AT HOP cards. The new gates will encourage everyone to pay, while making it more equitable for those who already do. It is also designed to reduce vandalism at stations.”
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said if a new system was built they would consider joining at some future date. "Auckland has an existing investment in an operational system that has world-class levels of penetration and performance. We have a plan to further enhance 'Hop' card."
18 Transport Officers are currently being recruited and will work initially on the Western Line to test the new legislation and scope of the role. The use of Transport Officers will be extended across the rail network and at least 120 could eventually be employed subject to the outcome of ongoing consultations. “We think having staff on the trains with legal powers will help make the trip safer and more comfortable for all our passengers. We think they will deter anyone who thinks they can travel without a ticket.”
Transport Officers, along with other staff, will act as a point of contact for incidents on the rail network and at stations they will help with emergency management through a close working relationship with the Police and Transport Operators.
For more more ticketing and payment related stories you might be interested in: