New South Wales expanding contactless ticketing trial to entire Sydney ferry and light rail network

Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), which manages the transport services in the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is going to expand the open payment trial, which was introduced to bring contactless ticketing into Australia.

The trial is being conducted in collaboration with Cubic Corporation’s Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) business division, which also designed, installed and operated the Opal card [1] system used for payments across the public transport system.

Since the trial was launched in July 2017, more than 15,000 passengers have used their Mastercard to tap and pay on the Manly Ferry service. The trial is now being extended across the entire Sydney ferry and light rail network. Customers will now also be able to use American Express and Visa cards to pay for their travel. They can also use smartphones or wearables linked to these cards to pay for public transport.

This has been adapted from the technology in London where the contactless “pay as you go” bank card, is used for over 2.1 million contactless journeys on its bus, Tube and rail services every day.

Open payment will not replace Opal, which is now used by nearly 14 million people a week but will provide freedom of choice when it comes to paying for travel.

Making the announcement, NSW transport minister, Andrew Constance said, “In New South Wales (NSW), we know transport is no longer just about infrastructure but also about embracing technology to provide the best services possible for our customers. The integration of contactless transport payments into the Opal ticketing system makes the purchasing of one-off fares quick, easy and seamless, providing choice and convenience to customers.”

“The trial has been a very important test for this complex new technology and we are delighted that contactless will now be expanded further,” said Tom Walker, senior vice president and managing director of CTS Asia-Pacific.

Transport for NSW also wants third parties to leverage the Opal payments platform. In December 2017, the Opal system was opened to third party private operators, through OpalPay. This will enable passengers to use the Opal card to pay for trips on routes operated by private operators (However, OpalPay fares are not the same as standard Opal fares. Fares are set by the operators.). CTS has been working closely with TfNSW to develop Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable third parties to connect to the Opal system so that journeys can be paid for using the Opal card. The open APIs allow other companies using their own terminals and equipment to connect to the Opal payments system. 

The Singapore Government’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been piloting Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) since March 2017, in collaboration with Mastercard. In response to the positive feedback, the LTA extended the pilot with Mastercard beyond the original duration of six months, and Visa and NETS are expected to come on board the pilot from June 2018. 

[1] Opal cards are smartcard tickets that people can keep, reload and reuse to pay for travel on public transport. The Opal network includes train, bus, ferry and light rail services in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands.

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