Transport for NSW’s (TfNSW) recent $123 million investment to improve congestion using multi-modal real-time data positions NSW as one of the most active jurisdictions in employing real-time data to meet customers’ needs.
As part of this $123 million investment, in late August TfNSW brokered a $50 million contract with California-based Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) to replace NSW’s ageing traffic management system with a new “fully multi-modal transport management platform” that it hopes will allow issues to be dealt with before they arise.
Traffic management in NSW is handled by the Transport Management Centre (TMC), which is responsible for monitoring and managing transport throughout the state. The TMC presently uses an ICT system that was first rolled out ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
The CTS transport management platform will rely on real-time data to immediately and automatically provide TMC operators with the information needed to inform the public of issues affecting multiple modes of transport. According to TfNSW, by 2020 the new platform will allow the TMC “to make faster, more informed decisions making passenger journeys more reliable and reducing the cost of congestion.” The system will additionally automate processes that were previously handled manually.
CTS has vast experience in managing public transit systems across the globe, including London’s Oyster Card and Chicago’s Ventra Card. CTS operates NSW’s Opal electronic ticketing system under a $398 million, fourteen-year contract that will continue through to the end of 2024. In January 2017, CTS secured a $10.2 million contract from TfNSW to design and implement a pilot system to integrate contactless debit and credit card payments with the existing Opal smartcard system.
CTS president Matt Cole said the company’s platform would “position Sydney as a global leader in multimodal transport management operations” and “bring additional innovation to Transport for New South Wales...”
The state has additionally employed the expertise of market leaders in its mission to deliver a real time solution to congestion and public transport in Sydney. Alongside major infrastructure firms WSP and the PVT Group, CTS’s rollout of this new transport management system will involve software giant Microsoft and Munich-based Mentz GmbH, which is contributing towards the European standardisation of Service Interface for Real Time Information (SIRI), the technology underpinning real-time travel apps. Mentz is itself engaged with TfNSW to deliver support for existing trip planning software as part of a three-year, $3 million contract.
The NSW Government has continued to position itself as a leader among Australian jurisdictions in using real time data to meet a range of customer needs. NSW Government agencies employing real-time data solutions to deliver better services include WaterNSW, which relies on real time data to monitor and manage dam levels and water quality, as well as Service NSW, which in 2015 promised its customers that they could access real time information regarding the waiting times in queues at service centres via the Service NSW app and website. Last year, NSW Ambulance rolled out a Dispatch Decision Support System to enable “the fluid deployment of resources informed by historic and real time data”, in order to streamline ambulance services in the state.
Victoria is also investigating real-time transport management, with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) partnering with a joint CTS and University of Melbourne initiative to introduce a multi-modal approach to traffic management in Melbourne.
In 2014, South Australia rolled out a real-time passenger information system. According to then Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) Chief Executive, Rod Hook, “real-time arrival information uses satellite tracking installed on all vehicles as part of our very successful Metrocard ticketing project, to predict when the next service will arrive based on speed and its last reported location”.