A more accessible, innovative and responsive public transport system will help to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. If public transport is convenient, reliable and cost-effective it supports people’s ability to travel safely, easily and independently, leading to more people using buses, rail and ferries more often.
Increasing the use of travel by public transport will help shape a more accessible, safe and sustainable transport system. It is increasingly important to ensure population and economic growth doesn’t translate into more congestion, more emissions, poorer air quality and ultimately less connected and liveable cities.
A National Ticketing Solution will improve public transport for New Zealanders through a centralised, standardised approach to paying for public transport, and a common customer experience no matter where you are in the country. This solution will make accessing and paying for public transport easier, providing more people with more choice.
In simple terms, it means having a single ticketing solution for public transport (bus, rail, and ferry) trips in all regions across New Zealand.
Easy-to-use and convenient public transport ticketing is a key part of the customer experience. Customers are increasingly expecting that the way they pay for public transport will be tailored to their needs and mirror the way they interact with most other services.
Current public transport ticketing and payment systems in New Zealand vary considerably in capability and customer experience across buses, ferries and rail. To encourage public transport as the preferred travel choice for more people, more often, we must invest in new technologies to improve the customer experience.
Customer expectations about how payments can be made for public transport is changing as Kiwis compare our transport service to other public transport networks around the world. Our current fare collection systems and payment methods nationally, present barriers to people using public transport.
At a high level, the National Ticketing Solution supports the government’s goals toward safer and less congested roads, reducing emissions, as well as supporting healthier lifestyles. It will also help to improve access to travel options and make public transport more affordable.
This nation-wide approach will deliver value for money.
The different ‘closed loop’ systems operating in New Zealand (using a stored value card for use in specific regions) will be superseded by ‘account-based ticketing’ - solutions that provide wider accessibility for users, customer flexibility, significantly better data, enhanced network management, as well as allowing for future technology innovations.
Account-based solutions also enable the introduction of ‘open loop’ payments (using credit/debit cards and digital versions such as Google Pay and Apple Pay). Open loop systems started appearing around the world in 2013 initially in London. Many more cities now use this ticketing approach including Sydney, Chicago, Singapore, Portland and Brisbane.
The national approach planned for New Zealand will bring an enhanced experience to the whole country.
The National Ticketing Programme was established in February 2016 as it was recognised that there were significant national and regional benefits from taking a nationally coordinated approach to regional payment solutions for public transport services.
In early 2018, the procurement phase of the National Ticketing Programme was given the working title ‘Project NEXT’.
The Project NEXT partners are representatives from Greater Wellington Regional Council, Auckland Transport, Environment Canterbury, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and a Regional Consortium of nine medium and smaller councils to ensure both national and regional concerns and interests are captured.
The National Ticketing Solution RFP was released to shortlisted global suppliers in April 2020. A rigorous multi-layered procurement evaluation process is in progress to determine the preferred supplier for the National Ticketing Solution, with evaluation undertaken by the Project NEXT partners.
The preferred supplier is expected to be announced later in 2021.
Timings are still being agreed as part of the procurement process and at the moment the first implementation is proposed in Canterbury in late 2022 followed closely by Wellington towards the end of 2022 or early 2023, however this is still subject to change.
It is planned that all regions will have transferred to the national solution before 2026.