The NSW government will start trialling non-Opal contactless card payments on the state’s public transport network in 2017, allowing commuters to tap on and off services with a credit or debit card.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the trial at the Future Transport Summit in Sydney today, boasting that he had beaten his interstate counterparts to the punch when it comes to next-generation electronic ticketing.
“Only a few major mass transit systems, similar in scale and complexity to Sydney’s, have introduced contactless payments. London’s Oyster card system is a well-known example, where they only finalised their rollout in late 2014,” he said.
However, he cautioned that there was still a lot to be done before commuters could throw away their Opal card altogether.
“A lot of critical work needs to be undertaken in the first stage of this project, such as finalising partnerships, working with the finance and contactless payments sector, developing the software and then in 2017, undertaking a customer trial," Constance said.
Queensland is also looking at taking its own Go Card e-ticketing system down the same path, and is in the process of re-assessing its electronic ticketing contract with Cubic ahead of market testing and a new deal due in March 2017.
The state's Transport Authority TransLink has already stated its intention to move to contactless credit card payments with the successful tenderer.
The NSW, Queensland and London systems have all been installed by Cubic.
The ticketing provider said just a year after launch, 20 percent of London commuters had already transitioned to bank card payments, away from the government-issued Oyster card, and visitors from 77 different countries had used their cards to pay for trips. London is also working towards NFC-based payments.
Constance told the summit he wanted to turn Transport for NSW “into a technology agency”.
“We want to be front and centre when it comes to innovation,” he said.
The minister also predicted driverless cars would be on the state’s roads within five years. His agency has rebranded its Crashlab testing facility into a ‘smart innovation centre’ that will, in part, be focused on controlled testing of autonomous vehicle technology.
He said the government was already thinking about the kinds of policy hurdles posed by driverless cars, like the impact on road rules, road planning policy, insurance, and even the effect that safety improvements could have on hospital demand.
“Are we going to have 10 year-olds driving driverless cars? These are the sorts of things we are going to grapple with," Constance said.