Opal could change

New South Wales’ public transport smartcard could have some competition from credit cards

New South Wales (NSW) commuters could soon use their credit cards to ‘tap on’ to public transport, following the announcement of a trial in 2017.

NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance kicked off the Future Transport Summit this week, announcing the State Government’s  commitment to a trial in 2017 to allow customers to pay for public transport by tapping on and off with their credit and debit cards.

"New South Wales is proud to be leading this Australian first. Contactless payment with credit and debit cards would offer customers another easy to use and convenient option for travelling," Constance says.

 "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.

"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."

The NSW Government has also announced the establishment of the state’s first Smart Innovation Centre in Western Sydney – a new research and development hub for emerging transport and road technology.

The centre will see the conversion of the existing Crashlab into a facility to accommodate future trials of driverless cars, as well as helping us understand how we need to plan and build road and transport infrastructure to prepare for future technology.  

As part of developing the next wave of real-time apps, Transport for NSW has today also launched its new online Open Data Hub, giving developers unprecedented access to public transport information.

"By making real-time data sets freely available, the new Open Data Hub will pave the way for app developers across the world to meet a broader range of customer and business needs here in NSW," Constance says. 

"We’ve already had huge success with our popular real-time apps. The applications for this transport data are endless and I can’t wait to see more creative thinking about technological solutions to meet the needs of our customers."

Constance says the future is clearly being driven by technology and the government is not prepared to sit around waiting to see what that means for transport customers.

"For too long, New South Wales has lagged behind the world when it comes to transport – but that’s changing," he says.

"We’ve got massive infrastructure builds underway, the rollout and expansion of Opal, Australia’s first automatic metro train is on its way and customers have service information at their fingertips with real-time apps.

"In the next few years I want to take things a step further for our customers, and that’s what the Future Transport Summit is all about. I don’t want to get dumped by the next wave of technology – I want to ride it."

About 500 guests attended the two-day summit in Sydney, headlined by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

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