With the introduction of ‘simpler fares’, it is great to see Auckland Transport offering up special child fares for weekends. And the recently announced availability of pre-pay HOP cards in selected supermarkets and other stores is another great step.
But, can we do more?
Recently we were in sunny Queensland for a quick winters break. While there, our means of getting around was mostly using public transport. On the Gold Coast one of the first stops was a 7-Eleven store to purchase some TransLink go cards (South-East Queensland’s version of the HOP card).
Expecting to have issues getting a card set up for our 8 year old child, I was pleasantly surprised to be given a Child version of the go card.
This is simply a go card that already has the child concession loaded. While this can be connected to an account, just like the HOP card, it is not mandatory and no identification or proof of age was required. How very simple, quite unlike in Auckland.
Another bugbear, and potential barrier to getting children using HOP cards, is the ocurrence of penalty fares
Penalty fares are charged when you forget (or intentionally neglect?) to tag off your bus or train a the end of a journey.
The image above is an example of penalty fares from TransLink. Since the Simpler Fares were introduced in Auckland, penalty fares are now set at 3 zones. That equates to $4.90 for adults and $2.72 for children.
While the penalty fare is probably not too bad, the biggest problem is that, after a number of transgressions, the card can be cancelled. And they can be cancelled with credit remaining on them, unable to be retrieved as I understand it.
This then requires the purchase of another new card.
In order to encourage children to adopt to the new way, we need to be looking at removing or substantially increasing the limit on the number of transgressions before the card is cancelled be scrapped for children?
Should we even be charging penalty fares for children? Let’s take a chance on them being honest young citizens in our fine city.
These children are the next generation of public transport users in Auckland. Let’s get them using it but without having parents worry about errors that could add considerable expense and trouble to parents while the children are ‘learning the ropes’.
Sure, we will have some children using the leniency to personal advantage but, most children and parents are honest. Let’s take a chance on it.
As a way of encouraging use of Child HOP cards, let’s get a Child card up and going for Auckland.
Cards do wear out with use and need to be replaced from time to time and we also know children love collecting cards so lets go a bit further and introduce a competition amongst children to design a new card every year. How cool would that be?
So, what do you think Auckland? Let’s give the children the keys, aka HOP cards, to the city.
Thanks to Tina Plunket for assistance with ideas. Tina has first hand knowledge of the problems caused by children forgetting to tag off.