The South Australian government is nearing the end of a public transport ticketing upgrade that will allow commuters to pay for buses and trams using their credit or debit cards and smartphones.
As other states continue or plan new upgrades to long-established transport ticketing systems, the Adelaide Metro is in the process of replacing end-of-life validators on two of the city’s busiest modes of transport.
Only Adelaide’s fleet of 24 trams are currently fitted with readers that accept credit and debit cards – the result of a September 2020 pilot that installed a single smart validator on each of the trams.
In January, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport began the second stage of the upgrade, which involved rolling out smart validators on trams and O-Bahn buses.
A spokesperson from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport told iTnews that the Adelaide Metro ticketing upgrade was “nearing competition” on buses.
“Work to enable smart validators on trams and O-Bahn buses to accept metroCARDs/Visa/Mastercard credit, debit cards and enabled smart devices is nearing completion,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson declined to address questions about an earlier pilot in 2017 to test NFC technology and barcodes/QR codes as means of payment on trams and some express bus services.
It is also not clear if a rollout of smart validators is planned for the train network, though Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Tom Koutsantonis has previously indicated this would be next.
“I have to say that both governments have not covered themselves in glory on this,” he told budget estimates last month.
“In other jurisdictions, you can get on a train or a tram on public transport and use a credit card, an eftpos card, a mobile phone, an Apple Watch, whatever it might be, to pay for your ticket.”
Koutsantonis said the department was conducting a “very strong body of work” and would roll out the technology “as soon as practicable”, noting the magnitude of the task.
“There are cost implications, there are practical implications and there are implications in terms of software and hardware that we need to update,” he added.
The upgrade of validators on Adelaide’s trams and buses comes as other states, including Queensland, Victoria and NSW, look to drive improvements in their transport ticketing systems.
In Queensland, the government recently expanded its new payments system to Brisbane’s first stretch of heavy rail, allowing commuters to pay with their credit or debit cards and smartphones.
After rolling out contactless payments technology in 2019, the NSW government is now look to digital cards and subscriptions as part of a planned $570 million upgrade of the Opal system.
Victoria, meanwhile, has begun a protracted process to replace the operator of the Myki ticketing system, bringing with it the ability to tap on and off using contactless-enabled credit cards.