Travelling their way

MyWay won’t be everyone’s way at the smartcard’s ACT launch next Monday as senior citizens tag-on weeks ahead of their fellow Canberrans

Travelling their way
Travelling their way

By David Goeldner | February 17, 2011

Next Monday marks ‘day one’ of Canberra’s public transport smart card MyWay, with the system going live for use by passengers holding smart card-enabled seniors’ cards.

The MyWay system uses an Oyster style tag-on tag-off smartcard with pre-loaded credit, and is based on TransPerth’s SmartRider card, developed by Parkeon and Downer EDI.

The decision to issue MyWay smartcards to seniors-only was based on keeping the first tranche of ACTION’s bus passengers relatively light at the early roll-out stages, explains Transport and Infrastructure Division Executive Director Tom Elliott.

"We’ve integrated the ACT’s seniors’ card with a smartcard transport ticket on one side (MyWay) and a seniors’ card on the other," says Elliott.

"And we thought seniors as a client group is a pretty good market to commence with based on the advice we received from our contracting partners Downer EDI and Parkeon."

Elliott says a staged rollout would place a gradual, rather than sudden, load onto the system.

"We want to build some increments on the system, and make sure it can handle a load of transactions," he says.

Working with the Council on the Ageing, ACT Chief Minister John Stanhope says the seniors rollout would be followed by a gradual MyWay phase-in to the rest of the ACT.

He says the first stage of the rollout involves sending letters to the ACT's 47,000 Seniors Card holders over the next three weeks, providing seniors with the option of replacing their cards with a combined ACT Seniors-MyWay card.

"Given the experiences of other cities, such as Melbourne and Sydney, which experienced significant technical issues, the ACT Government is taking a prudent approach to rolling out the new ticketing system," Stanhope says.

Elliott says many people don’t understand the complexities of the transaction processes around smartcard ticketing systems.

He says complicated fare structures and multi-modes of travel, combined with complex business rules coded into the system can lead to card readers freezing and other IT malfunctions.

"The simpler the system you have in place from a business perspective the more opportunity you have to design something that will work and work well," Elliott says.

"We don’t have multimode travel in the ACT and we have a flat fare structure – which assists us."

The system is expected to be available to all passengers across the ACTION bus network by May, and provide network planners with information to fine tune services across the ACT.

Elliott says MyWay will help network planners understand passenger trips, such as where people get on and off the bus, as well as project density of patronage across each route at different times of the day.

"We don’t know the patterns of public transport use at an individual level, we have no sense of that at the moment," he says.

"All we know is that some passengers got on a particular route on a particular day, but we don’t know what time they got on and for how long they were on board the bus – we don’t have any of that patronage data."

He says this use of data will determine existing travel patterns, enabling the network to be optimised, either through re-routing or re-timetabling services.

"MyWay will give us the data to plan better services," Elliott says.

Stanhope says MyWay cards would be made available to all users across Canberra by March 7.

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