Gathan Beaga

snapper: green, in the field

I have two very pleased little girls this evening.

B₂'s Green Snapper R₂'s Green Snapper

But then kids are always interested in the things that obsess their parents (or in this case, just one of their parents)1.

The Green Snapper cards for children became available today, and by coincidence the girls and I were able to catch a rush hour bus home this evening to try them out. Although it would have been possible for them to travel on my card, it’s not something that’s a good idea during the rush hour given the impatience of other commuters (it’s too easy for other people to push past and tag on with your collective fare), and the varying levels of bus driver knowledge on how to allow it.

So I thought that a green card each would have them able tag on for themselves, and give them a chance to take a little more responsibility for themselves.

The cards worked pretty much as you’d expect. Both girls needed a little coaching to tag on and off, but no more than many adults did this time last year. And travelling in the bus is still something of an exciting novelty for them (though something we want to do more of). But I still have a couple of issues with the new cards.

  1. The first, and least significant, is the crappy lanyard Snapper provide for them. While I’m grateful to have obtained some free ones for the girls, they don’t seem robust enough for my liking. This must surely be a job for the crafty people entering the Smarten your Snapper competition, right?
  2. Secondly, management of multiple cards is becoming more important. While you can register more than one card under a single login on the Snapper website, to add money to those cards or get an accurate balance via the website, you have to a) have the cards physically on you and b) have a computer running Windows. The first is not always going to be possible if the girls are looking after their cards themselves, and the second is unlikely given my home computer is a Mac. I want more ways to be able to fund card balances without having to go into a shop to do it – like being able to Bill Pay into a balance that can be distributed between cards via the website.
  3. Thirdly, once kids learn they can use their cards at shops to buy an ice cream and a packet of chips then some, at least, are going to find themselves short of enough balance to travel. I would love to be able to fund two balances on each card (and this goes for the red adult cards too) – one that works only public transport, and one that works at the corner dairy and other retailers. The cards should be able to do this: their little chip is capable of more than they’re currently being used for – I hope. (The question would be can the supporting retail hardware, business processes, and processing back-end handle it?)

So, another chapter in the ongoing Snapper story. It might not be the chapter we were looking for (fully integrated travel across Wellington, for example, will need more contributing authors than just Snapper alone); and could have been a little better written maybe… but my girls seem to like it.

1 Last year: Snapper, an introduction and Snapper: What about privacy? and Snapper: What about privacy, again?. I seem to be much more relaxed about the technology now than I was back then; though I still only use the cards for transportation purposes…