[NSW] Time to get the ticketing system right!

By: Chris Smith

The NSW Bus and Coach Association (BCA) is relieved that the NSW Government has finally made a decision on Tcard

The NSW Bus and Coach Association (BCA) is relieved that the NSW Government has finally made a decision on Tcard following the announcement by Transport Minister John Watkins that the contract with ERG had been terminated.

BCA Executive Director Darryl Mellish says the constant delays in the development of an integrated ticketing system for Sydney had been frustrating for private bus operators as well as the public.

"The termination of the contract provides an opportunity for the NSW Government to review fares policy and adopt a simple fully integrated fares system," Mellish says.

"Reforming fares is a critical factor in scoping a new ticketing system for Sydney and the BCA has released a discussion paper to promote public debate on this issue.

"It is time to review the multitude of fare products offered by the Government operators and simplify an over-complicated fares system," Mellish says.

The BCA supports the migration of Sydney’s operator based fare collection systems to an integrated cashless ticketing system.

"Using smartcards can provide passenger benefits including faster journey times, as well as providing operators with important patronage data for planning services," Mellish claims.

The BCA has been eagerly awaiting the introduction of Tcard so private operators could offer passengers the same multi-ride fare discounts that passengers using State Transit buses currently receive.

"It is unfortunate that without a new smartcard system private operators are unable to offer multi-ride fare discounts like those available on Government buses in the Eastern Suburbs, Inner West and North Shore," he says.

Mellish says private operators are concerned further delays will put stress on outdated ticketing equipment currently being used.

"Plans for the NSW Government to replace the 2400 ticketing consoles used on private buses in Greater Sydney would need to be agreed quickly," Mellish explains.

The BCA also proposes that the NSW Government establish a customer facing organisation (like Metlink in Melbourne) to better coordinate the marketing of fares and service information in Sydney.

Part of Sydney’s public transport and congestion woes result from the large number of Government agencies that administer public transport in NSW, many of which see themselves in competition rather than as part of an integrated public transport system.

"It’s time for the NSW Government to introduce a brand for Sydney’s public transport system that is controlled by one organisation including the PTTC and 131500," Mellish says.

He says there is a need for greater stakeholder consultation this time around.

"There is a need for industry representatives to be included on the Governments expert panel that would scope out the next steps for the new system," Mellish says.

"If other cities can do it, so can Sydney."

Mellish says the introduction of an integrated fares and ticketing system should be coordinated with service improvements, appropriate vehicle capacity, bus priority and marketing initiatives.

"We need to make public transport a more attractive travel option," he says.

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