Integrated ticketing and bus monitoring systems could improve NSW metropolitan bus services, despite an apparent lack of data on their potential benefits, according to a new report [PDF].
NSW auditor-general Peter Achterstraat outlined several IT initiatives he understood were in varying stages of development at NSW Transport and Infrastructure (NSWTI).
They included the state's troubled electronic ticketing system as well as a "real time bus monitoring and reporting system" that could give traffic light priority to late-running buses and trigger announcements at stops according to the GPS location of an approaching bus.
The systems could also power next bus arrival displays at bus stops and real-time information that was accessible to the public via "wireless handheld devices".
But while there was "considerable interest" in the projects, the auditor-general found "varying progress on many of these initiatives" from the State Transit Authority and private bus operators.
Achterstraat said it was likely to be "at least three to four years before the new electronic ticketing system is fully developed and operational."
"The Public Transport Ticketing Corporation has assumed that existing ticketing systems will then continue to operate for a further three years after that time," he said.
Data that analysed the potential for IT systems to improve bus network management and performance was also hard to find.
"The initiatives have the potential to significantly improve the journey of the bus passenger and strengthen NSWTI's management of metropolitan bus services," Achterstraat said.
"Yet we could find no strategy or document that looked at how these major initiatives could improve the performance of bus services.
"We would have expected to find references in NSWTI's business plan for Sydney's buses - had we been able to find one."
Among the report's other conclusions were that NSWTI should strengthen its contract management reviews and audit program. It noted that bus operators in the state mostly self-reported their service delivery and performance.
These arrangements would need to continue "until new electronic systems were fully operational."