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September 22, 2008 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Snapper causes dilemmas for VUWSA but free bus system will stay

Students who use the free university bus ticket system to travel between campuses can now breathe a sigh of relief, following a passionate confirmation from VUWSA Administration Vice-President that the Association is “not getting rid of the bus tickets!”

Under the current system, students who have classes between campuses on the same day are issued with a free 10-trip ticket, which can only be used on GO Wellington services between Victoria University campuses and Massey’s New Zealand School of Music.

Last year, over 9000 bus passes were given to the 1300 students and 450 staff members who regularly use this service.

The introduction of Snapper, an electronic payment system, means that the public will no longer be able to use paper tickets on GO Wellington bus services from 1 December. While initial reports suggested that the free bus tickets would be discontinued with this change, VUWSA maintain that they will find a way to continue providing this service – news that has been welcomed by students.

Leith Townshend, who is studying law and criminology, said “not having the free bus system would be putting even more pressure on some already stressed out law students,” and added that he felt it was VUWSA’s responsibility to provide the free bus tickets for students studying at different campuses. Despite assurances from the VUWSA executive that the new payment system will not affect this service, the introduction of Snapper has posed a dilemma for members of the executive.

On-going discussions between the executive and GO Wellington to find an alternative have been temporarily halted, due to the absence of the bus company’s spokesperson.

Welfare Vice-President Melissa Barnard said that although VUWSA originally had problems with abuse of the free paper ticket system, the kinks had been ironed out and “the system as it is works really good.”

Law student Chris Sheehan agrees with Barnard, saying that the system works well and saves students time and money.

The new electronic system, however, poses a lot of difficulties for exec members.

There are concerns over how the university can ensure that the students are using the cards to bus between campuses, as Snapper also enables holders to pay for consumer items at selected outlets.

Other problems VUWSA have identified include working around Snapper’s hidden costs, how much to load onto the cards and the dilemma of what happens when students forget to tag off.

“So many little things still need to be sorted,” VUWSA co-ordinator Julie McKiernan said.

A number of solutions have been discussed by exec members, including paying the $50,000 they give GO Wellington annually for the service upfront and providing the eligible students with a sticker to put on their university ID cards.

Neilson said that the two parties were currently looking to build a special “e-wallet” into the Snapper cards which could only be used for bus fares, and only to and from certain stops.

This could also allow VUWSA access to the transaction database provided by Snapper to ensure students were using their “e-wallet” money appropriately.

Barnard has asked students to “try and be patient” throughout this process, despite students having been left in the dark about the situation previously.

“I haven’t officially been told that [VUWSA] are going to stop handing out the tickets – I also haven’t heard of any replacement programme that they may be offering,” Townshend said.

Neilson has assured Salient that the current paper ticket system will remain until the problems are worked out and a new system is in place.


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  1. Mr Magoo says:

    450 staff use the VUWSA bus tickets??

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