July 8, 2016
Recent developments with Auckland Transport where the new HOP card scheme for free public transport of SuperGold holders was introduced on July 1 although initially very disappointing now look promising.
The Auckland Transport HOP card comes with a fee and appears to undermine an undertaking by Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges that there would be no changes to the principle of free off peak times. I have raised that matter with the Minister of Transport Hon Simon Bridges and have an arrangement to meet with him in August. However, I am of the view that the Auckland shambles was not created by him or his department and he is entitled to the opportunity to address that issue but it may well be too late to turn things around.
I have also had a discussion with Seniors Minister Hon Maggie Barry and explained to her that, in my view and the view of the Grey Power Federation, the Auckland Transport scheme destroys the concept of free off peak travel as promised to us by Government and sets a dangerous precedent for other areas of the country. We have also attempted to discuss the matter with Auckland Transport, but they have refused to engage with us.
Hon Maggie Barry has assured me that the best way forward is to pursue a smart card option for the SuperGold card. This is something that the Minister has been considering for some time now and has been working on it as quickly as technology allows. A smart SuperGold card would allow access to free off-peak travel to be compatible nationwide without the need for a HOP card or anything similar. However, before this happens there needs to be certainty that such a card will work seamlessly with the minimal disruption to Seniors around New Zealand.
The option to turn the SuperGold card into a full ID card is still some way off and we have agreed that this option can be left to the future. This will allow the technicians to move much quicker with a SuperGold smart card for off-peak free travel. This option will also require all major transport companies to adopt the same smartchip technology. This will be an added complication. It is not insurmountable but it will take a little time to work through.
As an interim measure therefore I have asked Hon Maggie Barry to proceed with the free travel smart card option only as a matter of urgency and she has promised she should be able to make a public announcement on time frames etc in the next few months.
Given the positive reception to my request, firm assurances and my meeting with both Ministers in August during a very busy parliamentary schedule can I ask all members to give me and our two relevant Ministers time to work through this very complex issue without further public pressure?
Former National President
Grey Power Federation