Netflix model for NSW transport nears with new Opal digital account

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Netflix model for NSW transport nears with new Opal digital account
Source: Transport for NSW

Platform becomes one-stop shop for transport transactions.

NSW transport minister Andrew Constance’s vision for a Netflix-style subscription for transport services could soon be a reality using a new account-based ticketing system to link Opal and credit or debit payments.

The platform, dubbed Opal Connect, was launched by Transport for NSW on Tuesday to provide a “new way to link customers between different modes of transport”.

It is intended to address the changing nature of how customers plan, book and pay for transport, and follows other recent efforts to address pain points in the first and last mile of a journey.

Customers will be able to use Opal Connect to “sign in to different transport operator’s apps to book and pay for their travel” after first linking their Opal card and credit or debit cards.

“Opal Connect is a new ticketing solution that aims to provide an integrated and convenient experience for customers through one trusted digital account,” a TfNSW spokesperson said.

The account appears to be a metamorphosis of plans revealed by the agency in 2017 to give commuters the option to consolidate their various accounts through a single portal.

“Into the future, Opal Connect has the capability to become a one-stop shop for all transport transactions and information, whether it is public transport, rideshare, taxis, parking and even tolling,” the spokesperson said.

However, TfNSW also envisions that Opal Connect has the “potential to become a subscription service offering bundled transport options”.

Transport minister Andrew Constance raised the prospect of a Netflix model for transport earlier this year, whereby commuters would pay a weekly or monthly fee to use the public transport system.

He said the service could have “different pricing for public or private providers ... built in”, with commuters able to book an Uber or ride the Sydney North West Metro all on the same subscription.

The first stage of Opal Connect will allow customers who use on demand services at the Ponds and Norwest to receive a travel credit when the transfer to Opal services. This credit can then be used towards future on demand bookings.

TfNSW has worked with Cooee Busways, MetroConnect, Via Technologies and Swat Mobile to help integrate the new technology into On Demand application offerings.

“The biggest hurdle for people catching public transport is often that first and last mile,” the spokesperson said.

“Our goal is to make this key part of the journey as simple and integrated as possible.”

TfNSW has also been working with Uber to inprove the first and last mile of a journey and recently integrated public transport information with the ride sharing giant.

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