Why do Wellington trains only take cash?

Have you ever noticed that our trains don’t accept EFTPOS, or allow Snapper cards? If you hop on a train here, the only way you can pay is if you have physical cash.

In such a technologically advanced city, it’s surprising that our public transport is so behind.

Do you ever catch yourself on a train, and find you don’t have enough cash? Or do you find yourself having to remember to take cash when you go to catch the train? Cash only trains seem normal to many Wellingtonians, but as soon as you step into another city, you will be surprised at how behind we are.

In Auckland, they have ‘HOP’ cards which you can top up online, or via machines at each station. Before you get on the train, you tap your card against a machine at the station. When you get off at your destination, you tap your card again at another machine. In the main Auckland station (Britomart) you cannot even get to the trains unless you tap your HOP card to get through barriers, OR you can show a paper ticket to staff. This means they have stronger prevention to stop people hopping onto a train and not paying their ticket – whereas in Wellington, you don’t need a ticket to get onto the train. This leads to a lot of ‘theft’ of a free train ride.

Wellington does allow EFTPOS payments at the main Wellington train station, as well as the ability to purchase monthly passes, or 10 trip passes. Several other station have the ability to purchase a ticket from staff before getting on a train, but often these offices are closed, and they are not at every station.

If Wellington could extend Snapper cards to our trains, this would be a step forward in moving towards a cashless city, and would make it much easier and faster to travel.

Even if train staff could each have a portable EFTPOS machine each (there are ones that can simply attach to a phone), this would enable you to forget about cash, and just use your EFTPOS card.

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