Transport for NSW has extended contactless payments via credit cards and smart devices to Sydney’s metropolitan and regional heavy rail network.
Transport minister Andrew Constance announced the expansion of the scheme this afternoon to the entire Sydney Trains network, as well as NSW TrainLink Intercity services.
“Integrating contactless transport payments into the Opal ticketing system is about choice and convenience, giving customers another option for accessing public transport and the ability to pay as you go without ever having to wait in a queue at the station,” he said.
The expansion also brings new support for daily, weekly and Sunday fare caps, which until now have been limited to Opal card users.
However Adult fares will continue to be the standard for the contactless payment method, though this is now the cost of a standard Opal distance-based fare instead of a single trip ticket.
Contactless payments have been accepted on all Sydney ferries and the inner west light rail network since March this year after a successful trial on the Manly ferry.
Commuters are able to tap on and off using contactless-enabled American Express, Mastercard or Visa card, as well as smartphones, tablets and smart watches linked to their credit cards across
iTnews foreshadowed the arrival of contactless payments on Sydney’s heavy rail network by the end of this year after revealing that Transit officers were unable to check if people have tapped on or not.
The loophole had left authorities scrambling to find a way to solution to check NFC based fares.
But on Monday TfNSW updated guidance on its website to indicate that Transit offers were now able to scan a card or device to check its validity.
This will provide the same information as provided for an Opal Card, including where a person tapped on or off and details of the last 10 contactless transport transactions.
"This information is visible for a very limited time," the agency said.
"A series of safety protocols is used, including end-to-end encryption, to ensure contactless transport payments and fare compliance checks are processed in line with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS)."
The Commonwealth Bank, which provides the core payment infrastructure behind the contactless transactions, said in a separate statement that officers would use a new contactless validation solution developed by Canadian payment acceptance company Mobeewave to do this.
However TfNSW said that some compliance checks would require an additional overnight check to be conducted where fare payments cannot be confirmed.
TfNSW also warns that commuters could be fined if a device used to tap on dies during a trip.
Constance also used the contactless expansion on Monday reiterate that the introduction of contactless payments was not intended to replace the Opal card, which he said remained the “foundation of digital payments”.
“Opal is not going anywhere and is still the most affordable way to pay for your fares, this is the NSW Government providing greater flexibility and convenience,” he said.
However with the benefits of daily, weekly and Sunday travel caps added to the contactless payment scheme, Weekly travel discounts, concessions and the transfer discount are now the only benefits standing in the way of the Opal card’s demise.
TfNSW are planning to assess the implementation of the contactless payments on trains, ferries and the light rail network before extending the payment method to buses in mid-2019.
It is also working with EFTPOS on how they might be included in the trial. The debit card network has been actively seeking to tap into the contactless transport payments to take the fight to competitors.
Update 3:00pm: To include information on contactless payment checking by Transit officers.