snapped? (toru)

by Alan on July 22, 2008

another snapper cardToday, reader DaveK let us know that Snapper cards have finally gone on sale at a couple of retailers in town, at least. They’re also available, along with the card readers that allow WinIE types to do refills at home, from the Snapper website.

Of course there’s been a few more teething troubles reported; difficult questions haven’t been answered; not all buses (or drivers for that matter) seem to be enabled for the new technology; and retailers still don’t seem all that fussed. Meanwhile, as Poneke has reported, the 10-trip tickets will be withdrawn from sale from August 29.

But while the whole thing seems very much a work in progress, we’re just glad they’ve started on the rollout to us, the public transport punters. It’s the Future™, you know.

So in the spirit of the week we’re in, we’ll offer some words of encouragement:

He ika kai ake i raro, he rāpaki ake i raro.

clovenhoof August 4, 2008 at 11:46 am

On my bus this morning the Snapper was down so the driver gave everyone a free ride to town.

Robyn August 4, 2008 at 12:06 pm

This morning I heard two guys on the bus talking about Snapper cards.

Guy 1: What do you think of those Snapper cards?
Guy 2: I was thinking of getting one, but I was on a bus last week and a guy was trying to use one and it kept going “Please try again, please try again, please try again.” So I think I’ll stick with my 10-trip.”
Guy 1: Yeah, same.

Tom July 23, 2008 at 11:13 am

It shouldn’t be that hard! The fees all seem a little offputting, but I’ve been looking forward to these and I’ll stick with them to see how they go. As an occasional bus user, ten-trips have always been a pain because you have to have a separate card for each number of zones, and they don’t apply for city-section trips. I don’t like lugging around a lot of change, so if I’m planning to take the bus I always have to ensure that I get some change from somewhere. If they end up being quicker than Eftpos (by saving the 10 seconds or so entering one’s PIN) then they’ll be great for things like takeaway coffee or bars where there’s always time pressure for payments.

It does look like the implementation here has been problematic, but I wish it well. As I said earlier, the real advantage would come if it were rolled out across the whole PT network and perhaps taxis as well. It’s bad enough at the moment that some bus services don’t take Go Wellington 10-trips, but this should be a real opportunity to integrate PT across the whole Greater Wellington region.

jim July 23, 2008 at 11:10 am

The website won’t send a Snapper to a PO Box. I guess I’ll just use up my 10 trip ticket after all.

jim July 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm

No no, the postie delivers all our PO Box-addressed mail to our office. It just seemed simpler than scurrying out into the rain to search for one of these mythical retailers…

stephen clover August 6, 2008 at 9:02 am

Good call.

Hadyn July 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm

2 days now of using my Snapper card and it’s been all gravy. The smallest glitch was a bus that came past with it’s readers covered, but that was ok another showed up at the same time with readers blazing!

How do I know when I’m running low on credit though?

Then with the Snapper charge of 25 cents per transaction, I should “feed” the Snapper with $81 every 4 weeks, because that’s the point where the lost interest for me equals the transaction fee.

I followed Stephen’s advice btw, tho I got a strange look when I asked to put $81 on the card.

cath August 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Not usually one to moan but you could say this evening I just snapped… Here’s the email I sent to the Snapper team leader:

Hi there,

I am following up a phone call I made to your call centre this evening which failed to answer any of my questions. The lady on the phone politely suggested that I contact you regarding my query.

I purchased and topped up my Snapper card just yesterday and the three times I have tried to use it on the bus to/from Island Bay the machine has not been working. The first time I got on the bus the driver told me the machine was not working and allowed me to ride for free. The same thing happened this morning.

This evening when I tried to get the Number 1 Island Bay bus (at approximately 5pm) the driver refused to let me ride on the bus as the machine – once again – was not working. Ironically, the bus had a big Snapper insignia on the door and the driver himself had a Snapper badge on his jersey. However it seems the only snapping he was doing was at tired office dwellers trying to use their flash red cards to get home. I was told that unless I had cash I would have to wait for a bus to arrive that did have a machine that was working.

I now understand that the machines are being progressively rolled out but I would like to know the following:

Exactly how many buses have yet to have a machine installed? On what routes are these buses?

Where on the Snapper website/newspaper ads is the advice to carry cash in the event of the Snapper machine not working?

What instructions have drivers received in cases where a Snapper card or the Snapper machine does not work?

Why is the Snapper card not available at outlets that usually sell 10-trip bus cards?

I await your response,

clovenhoof August 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Until october when you’ll no longer be able to get 10 trips.
it seems to me that snappers work best for 2Zoners.
3 Zoners might as well just get a Gold pass still I think.

Robyn July 24, 2008 at 7:48 pm

I bought a Snapper card from Kirks this evening and used it to get he bus home.

1. In the early days, when fewer people are using the cards, it’s going to make getting on much quicker. While the person ahead of you is fumbling or change and waiting for the driver to bloop-bloop their ticket, I’ll be in my seat, tagged on. Yeah.

2. Somehow I was anticipating that tagging off on exit would be really difficult. I imagined it would be an arduous process of waiting, somewhere between an eftpos transaction and using my swipe key at work. But all it involved was holding my card by the reader on the way out. Easy!

3. So, this Snapper thing. It’s quite good, eh.

uk-kiwi July 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

I’m liking the snapper, although the tag off is sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Huh?

What they need to do next is enable the auto-topup function so if your balance drops below $5 or so it automatically debits your CC. That would be incredibly useful, I always forget to buy bus tickets.

Robyn: I hope they raise all cash fares to around $5 to force people to use the Snapper. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch one moron after another count out their 10 cent coins or expect change from a 20 when you are late for work!

I was a regular bus user in London where cash fares were significantly higher than Oyster fares. The buses were SO MUCH faster at bus stops, as almost everyone used Oyster.

Bring on the cashless society!

stephenjudd July 29, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Heh. It would totally rock my world if there were lots of $81 transactions freaking out some bored datamining analyst.

Tom July 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

How do I know when I’m running low on credit though?

According to teh faq, “you will get to be shown your balance if your account has less than $20”. At Wishbone, I think it showed my balance each time.

Alan July 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Exactly that Tom: from what I can tell at shops you always get shown your balance; on the buses you get the balance (or an alert) only if the balance is less than $20.

stephenjudd July 23, 2008 at 10:43 am

Incidentally, I just did a little maths.

Obviously, I want to minimise the transaction fees that I pay Snapper, but if I load too much on to the card, they get all the interest that I should be earning for myself.

Assume that I can get 8% in a high interest call account.

Assume that I go two sections twice a day, it would cost 20.25 per working week with the new fares and a 25% discount.

Then with the Snapper charge of 25 cents per transaction, I should “feed” the Snapper with $81 every 4 weeks, because that’s the point where the lost interest for me equals the transaction fee.

I’m quite serious about the Infratil shares. Those fees combined with the retailer percentage are going to be an amazing revenue stream for them.

Roisin Barrett July 23, 2008 at 10:50 am

Bugger – just read that they will be getting rid of the 10 trips. I’d rather walk now!!!

stephenjudd July 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm

The 10 trip tickets don’t have a fee for purchasing them so there’s nothing to minimise. Therefore you should only ever purchase them as you need them.

Alan July 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

What’s the equivalent calculation for today’s 10-trip tickets?

Remember that you only get a 20% fare discount for those; but then you don’t get the 2% refill tax for DIY online, nor the $0.25 refill tax for retail refill.

I wonder if Snapper is actually cheaper now? (The fare discount, I think, was recently changed from 20% to 25%, and I wonder if this was the reason.)

clovenhoof July 24, 2008 at 12:22 pm

right.
Must be stink never going to town eh.
Don’t you get bored or are you reclusive?

stephen clover July 23, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Good thinking, batman.

I just hate assholes who won’t ship to PO Boxes.

clovenhoof July 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Well if you have to go pick it up from a P.O.Box anyway you’ll probably be near somewhere that sells the card. surely?

stephen clover July 23, 2008 at 11:33 am

Ew, that’s crappy.

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