After spending almost $1bn on smartcard, NSW gov launch its answer to London’s Oyster Card.
But even the pollies who are launching the card today said they expect “some hiccups along the way.”
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian unveiled the Opal card and new eticketing system said it “will transform the way they move around”…..”eventually.”
Successive labor and Liberal government have spent massive time and money trying to get the ecard off the ground, after several previous attempts flopped, and have spent $1bn on the Opal card.
Ms Berejiklian said the Opal card would launch with a customer trial from 7 December on the Neutral Bay ferry route and then rolled out for all Sydney Ferries, train, bus and light rail customers through to 2015.
“London has the Oyster, Hong Kong the Octopus and from next month Sydney will have the Opal card,” Minister Berejiklian said.
“While the Opal card will eventually transform the way we move around, the roll out is complex and we are taking our time – we have learned from overseas that progressive roll outs work best.”
A smart card for Sydney public transport was first promised for the Sydney 2000 Olympics – 13 years ago.
The general consensus on Twitter is ‘about time’ but experts reckon Opal card is so last century with new technologies like NFC chips on smartphone soon to overtake smartcard technology which Transport for London first introduced in 2003.
“It’s about time Australia had electronic ticketing on public transport,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Test of city’s ticket to ride will decide if Opal is Coalition’s trump card-stupid idea this should be done on phones” another tweeted.
However the NSW transport minister also said “we expect there may be some hiccups along the way.”
The Opal card It works like an e-tag where users ‘tap on’ at the start of their trip on each mode and ‘tap off’ at the end of the journey used across all public transport.
The Opal card is expected to be available for all Sydney Ferries’ customers, at more than 40 wharves from Parramatta to Manly, by the end of next year, with the roll out to trains starting on the City Circle in the second half of 2013.
Ongoing fares for the Opal card will be detailed following the ferry trial, but Berejiklian announced three key incentives will be in place to encourage uptake of the smartcard:
A weekly reward providing free travel after eight paid journeys in a week; a $2.50 daily cap on Sundays; daily travel cap of $15 from Monday to Saturday – handy for tourists and one-off users.
By 2015, 42 ferry wharves, more than 300 train stations, 5,000 buses and light rail will have Opal equipment operating in Sydney, the Hunter, Central Coast, the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains.
There are four option for top up: auto top up, at retailers, via the Opal Customer Care call line, or online.