Sydney commuters from today are able to tap their credit or debit card, or smart wallet device instead of their Opal card to travel on metro trains.
All Visa, Mastercard and AMEX cards, and linked digital wallets, are now accepted across the entire Sydney Trains network and on any NSW Train Link Opal service. Travellers will now enjoy daily, weekly and Sunday travel caps in line with Opal caps. Other Opal benefits – such as the weekly travel discount, concessions and the transfer discount – are not available.
The card tap-and-go option is now available on all trains, public ferry and light rail services. The NSW Government said contactless payments will be expanded to the bus network around the middle of next year.
The roll-out follows a successful pilot of Mastercard contactless payments on the F1 Manly Ferry in 2017, before it was extended to other modes of travel earlier this year. To date, more than 235,000 trips have been made using the contactless payments option, the government said.
“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,” said NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance in a statement today.
“Contactless payments will also make purchasing higher one-off fares a thing of the past for occasional train customers and visitors to NSW,” he added.
The core payment infrastructure for the travel payments has been developed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. CBA also plays a key role as the acquirer, and back-end processor of the transactions
The bank has partnered with Canadian firm Mobeewave to allow transit officers to validate contactless payment fares using off-the-shelf devices. With the support of French company IDEMIA, Mobeewave has adapted its payment acceptance platform to create a new contactless validation solution to mitigate the risk of fare evasion.
“Cities and public transport authorities across Australia are realising the value this payments technology can deliver for both customers and transport providers alike. It demonstrates the future capability for commuters across the states and territories, and will ultimately make commuting across the country, and across transport networks, a simpler and easier day-to-day process,” said CBA’s business customer solutions executive general manager Clive Van Horen.
“Nearly all of an individual’s daily transactions across the city can now be accessed with a single card or device. This is in direct response to a growing demand for contactless payments, and the use of digital wallets,” he added.
Full steam ahead
In December 2016 Transport for NSW announced it had signed a $10.2 million contract with Cubic Transportation Systems Australia to “design, build and operate a contactless transport payment solution for a customer trial in 2017”.
Cubic successfully transitioned Transport for London's Oyster-card system – covering buses, tubes and ferries – to contactless in 2014, making it world’s largest contactless pay-as-you-go travel network.
The work there involved retrofitting 20,000 card readers as well as updating front and middle office systems to link with Transport for London's own back office system for processing payments, Cubic said.
The company said the contactless technology, software and equipment developed for Sydney will be included in projects to be rolled out over the next few years in cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco.
“Expanding contactless in Sydney is a game-changer for transport and represents one of the biggest advancements in ticketing technology in years,” said Tom Walker, senior vice president and managing director of Cubic Asia-Pacific, in a statement today.
“We’re very proud that Sydney is helping to lead the way by embracing new technologies to provide the best services possible for passengers,” he added.
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