1 Jul 2016

Grace period for Auckland's SuperGold card users

10:48 am on 1 July 2016

About 90,000 Auckland pensioners have failed to meet today's deadline to ensure they can still get free off-peak public transport.

The city has 180,000 people with a SuperGold card entitling them to a range of discounts, but under a new government rule they have to sign up to the AT HOP card if they want to continue getting free bus, train and ferry rides.

Supergoldcard holders will need a new AT HOP electronic card to travel free from 1 July.

SuperGold card holders need a new AT HOP electronic card to travel free from today. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Auckland Transport said it expected only about half would sign-up and its five week publicity campaign had done its job.

Mayor Len Brown said there would be a period of grace for those Supergold cardholders who had not made the change by today's deadline.

Auckland Transport has not said how much longer it would allow those without the new card to travel free, though Mr Brown said it would be for the whole of this month.

"All of those who are on our public transport system, the drivers, conductors etc., will show some latitude for the month of July to recognise the fact that these types of roll-outs aren't perfect."

Auckland mayor Len Brown at the gathering of graffiti agencies in Auckland.

Len Brown says there will be a grace period for those without the AT HOP card to travel free. Photo: RNZ/Kim Baker Wilson

The new regime was decided late last year, but Auckland Transport's campaign was delayed while it tried initially without success to get the Ministry of Social Development to mail out information.

RNZ spoke to seniors queuing to get their new cards at the Massey Library, who were struggling with problems such as not knowing they could continuing using old blue HOP cards if they had them.

One person said the change was very confusing, while another questioned whether the left-hand knew what the right hand was doing.

Several said they hadn't received letters that were sent to SuperGold car holders.

Seniors Minister Maggie Barry said the change was always going to be tricky to manage, but she understood there was a grace period that would relieve some of the pressure.

"I don't want seniors to feel anxious or concerned about this but I think that when the system is up and running, as it has been in Invercargill and in Otago, people will find it's actually much more convenient and easy for them to use."