The Western Australian government is making moves to continue growing its public transport sector, rolling out new payment options through the launch of a new pilot testing program.
The pilot testing program is part of a $57.8 million project to modernise Transperth’s payment systems and make it easier for passengers to ride on public transport.
The initial pilot testing program will run for two months and will include the installation of around 30 new upgraded validators on buses and at train stations.
The upgraded validators will be installed at key stations including Warwick, Glendalough, East Perth, Claisebrook and Perth, as well as ten buses operating in the northern suburbs.
While the upgraded validators are installed with technology that can accept a range of payment options including credit cards, mobiles and wearable devices, they will only be compatible with SmartRiders during the initial pilot testing phase.
During the pilot testing phase, the Public Transport Authority will be assessing the upgraded validators to ensure they integrate with existing SmartRider systems.
Passengers can provide feedback on the new readers by completing a survey via a QR code on the devices and be in the running to win $200 value added to their SmartRider.
The full roll out of upgraded validators across the entire public transport network is expected to be completed in the first half of 2024. Once the full roll out has been completed, the new payment options will be made available.
The Public Transport Authority will also be trialling two new Add Value Machines (AVMs) at Joondalup and Warwick stations, which will also undergo testing in coming weeks. The AVMs will allow people to purchase SmartRiders and make it easier to top them up.
“We’re investing billions of dollars into our world class public transport system through METRONET, and we need a modern payment system that provides passengers, including visitors, with a more flexible, reliable and easier way to travel on public transport,” WA transport minister Rita Saffioti says.
“Technology has come a long way and we want our public transport to keep pace by allowing people to pay with credit and debit cards, smart phones and wearable technology.
“It’s important to note that people will not be able to use other payment options during this initial testing phase, as it is just being used to ensure there is seamless integration with existing SmartRider systems.”
The trial comes as WA has released its public transport patronage statistics, and it’s good signs for the state post-COVID.
Patronage on public transport continues its strong recovery from the COVID pandemic with figures just released by the Public Transport Authority showing a more than 20 per cent increase in boardings last financial year.
Total boardings – incorporating bus, train and ferry passengers – for the year to June 30 reached 123.03 million, a 20.65 per cent increase on 2021-22’s 102.20 million.
Patronage data from this financial year suggests the strong growth is continuing with daily SmartRider tags in recent weeks running just above the equivalent pre-COVID figures, and preliminary July results showing total boardings were 11.08 million, the best July figure for four years.
“We saw during the COVID pandemic patronage decrease significantly, but the bounce back over the past 12 months has been exceptionally strong and the data suggests that patronage is continuing to grow,” Saffioti says.
“These results highlight how valued public transport is to our community and why our government is making such a significant investment to expand our train networks through METRONET.
“With significant METRONET projects in the pipeline including the Morley-Ellenbrook Line and the Yanchep Rail Extension, more people than ever before will be able to access our world class public transport system and train network in the years ahead.”