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NSW and Victoria get runs on the e-ticketing board

by Paris Cowan •
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It’s been a big week for public transport e-ticketing systems with the long-awaited launch of the Myki smartcard system for Melbourne’s buses and trams on Sunday 26 July and the NSW Government awarding a $398 million contract to the Pearl Consortium (Cubic Transportation, Downer EDI and the Commonwealth bank) for a public transport electronic ticketing system for the Greater Sydney region.  Their solution is based on the successful Oyster ‘Smart’ Card in use in London and other major cities, which perhaps accounts for the name ‘pearl’ consortium

The NSW contract was published on 21 May, which is 6 week later than the self-imposed deadline of Quarter 1 2010 that the Public Transport Ticketing Corporation (PTTC) set out in its 2009-10 corporate plan.  The contract pertains to the design, implementation and ongoing maintenance of the proposed e-ticketing system over fifteen years.  It is likely that a significant proportion of the $398m will be spent in the first 5-10 years, rather than evenly spread across the 15 years of the project.  The NSW Government allocated $49.53 million in the 2010-11 budget to the project.

The contract follows the NSW Government’s failed first attempt at introducing an e-ticketing system – the ‘T-card’ – which has descended into a court battle between the PTTC and former contractor ERG Group. 

Cubic Transportation has flagged the possibility of additional payments, or variable charges, which may bring the total value to $650 million through to 2024.  Variable charges will be dependent on the number of customers using smart cards and the number and value of financial transactions per smart card.

Smart cards are also a key aspect of Victoria’s Myki e-ticketing system, which has also had a long and tumultuous history.  The program has been extended to Melbourne’s buses and trams after being implemented for the rail network in January of this year. Kamco is the consortium contracted to develop and build Myki in Victoria.

Work commenced on the Myki system in 2005. It replaces the paper-based ‘Metcard’ with a plastic smartcard which like the Oyster card, can be loaded with funds online and at specialist machines, and uses a ‘touch on/touch off’ system to register use.

The $1.35 billion dollar Victorian ticketing upgrade is currently more than 3 years behind schedule and $350 million over budget.  The ticketing authority will be hoping the customer uptake will be accelerated by the extension to the extra modes of transport, with only 5% of travellers having made the shift to the new system so far.

Despite having never built a complete ticketing system from scratch before, Cubic Transportation can boast considerable transport smartcard experience, including the implementation of London’s Oyster Card system.  Cubic’s subcontractors, engineers Downer EDI and Parkeon who supply on-board bus equipment, have recently completed work on an e-ticketing system in Perth and have entered into a contract to do the same in the ACT.

 Meanwhile, in Brisbane the Queensland Government can’t give their smartcards away.  In an effort to accelerate the uptake of the Go-Card system, which has been marred by faulty machinery and distribution issues, it was announced that 400,000 of the reloadable cards would be given away with $10 value already assigned to each.  Two thirds of these have remained unclaimed.

Perth’s SmartRider system has been in place since 2007, but its implementation came two years after the originally scheduled completion date.

The ACT has signed a deal for the development of an $8 million ticketing system, due to become operational in the second half of this year.

In February South Australia awarded Affiliated Computer Services an $11 million contract to have an e-ticketing system rolled out by 2013.

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