8 March 2024

ACT Government pressured to offer free public transport if MyWay+ system isn't ready by September

| Claire Fenwicke
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The MyWay+ ticketing system will be rolled out across buses and light rail in Canberra – once it’s ready. Photo: James Coleman.

The clock is ticking for Canberra’s promised new public transport ticketing system to be up and running as the shut-off date for the 3G network looms.

MyWay operates on the Optus 3G network, which will be turned off in September.

Its successor, dubbed MyWay+ in an announcement around this time last year, finally secured a supplier after having to go back to the drawing board for the tender process.

There were also delays in announcing tech firm NEC Australia as the supplier.

Given the history surrounding the delivery of MyWay+, the Canberra Liberals want to know if backup plans are in place.

“To date, there have been no assurances from the ACT Government that the new system, which was promised in 2016, will be rolled out before the Optus 3G network – which the current system relies on – is switched off or how fares will be collected if the new system is not in place,” Shadow Transport Minister Mark Parton said.

“If the new system cannot be rolled out before the Optus 3G network ceases, the Labor-Greens government should make public transport free during that period.”

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The Opposition argued the Labor-Greens government had a proven history of not delivering public transport projects on time.

The party pointed to the new timeline for the light rail track to Woden, now expected to be delivered by 2033, and the replacement of non-compliant buses blowing out from 2022 to an unknown time.

Given that the new public transport ticketing system was announced seven years ago, Mr Parton wanted a firm date for when MyWay+ would be ready.

“Whilst I am sure the Chief Minister would try and sell [free public transport] as a measure to help Canberrans during a cost-of-living crisis [if it comes to it], the fact is it is the only way he can cover up the incompetence of his government,” he argued.

“Canberrans might finally see some benefit from the gross incompetence of the Labor-Greens government through free public transport until the new MyWay system is in place.”

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Region approached the ACT Government for an updated timeline on when MyWay+ would be delivered and whether there had been any delays to the project.

It was also asked about the demo bus, which was promised for the first half of this year, and which would allow people to practise the new ticketing method. It was also asked what backup plans were being considered just in case MyWay+ wasn’t ready before September.

Answers were not provided for those specific questions, but Acting Transport Minister Tara Cheyne said the government was “well aware” the Optus 3G network had an end date and that it had been incorporated into the project planning.

“Decisions on pricing and fare structure will be made in the coming months,” she said.

Ms Cheyne pointed the finger back at the Canberra Liberals, challenging them to announce their transport election policy.

“The Canberra Liberals have had 1236 days to come up with a transport policy for Canberra’s future and they still don’t have one,” she said.

“By contrast, ACT Labor is delivering expanded stages of light rail, more electric buses and a new ticketing system to support our growing city.

“Instead of just criticising our policy platform and telling us what they’re not going to do, the Canberra Liberals should release their own plan. A serious alternative government can’t have no plan for public transport.”

The MyWay+ system is expected to be phased in over a transition period once design and development processes have been completed.

About 25 ticket vending machines will also need to be installed, along with more than 1,000 new validators onboard Transport Canberra buses and on light rail platforms.

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The petulant tara cheyne calling out the liberals for not coming out with a transport policy is hilarious when her govt haven’t even updated a simple 3G network update for the ticketing system since 2016. She’s a hypocrite and clearly incompetent.

Tom Worthington11:25 am 08 Mar 24

Busses and trams have onboard communications, as do bus interchanges, and tram stops for security, and public information. Do these use the Optus 3G network? If they do, will our public transport network continue to operate? If not, why can’t that network be used for MyWay: it is all just data.

As long as I can keep using my current MyWay card.

Busses don’t take EFTPOS, public transport is pretty much free already

Linda Seaniger1:38 pm 07 Mar 24

Simple just use NSW opal network it’s app’s and payment system work perfectly. Better still let it manage our public transport system and the city.

Linda Seaniger, no, the Sydney network doesn’t allow credit cards, unlike some cities in the world. Australia should have one card system, but the chosen one needs to allow credit card swipe on as well for visitors. Each city could still set their own prices.

GrumpyGrandpa3:48 pm 07 Mar 24

G’day Linda,
Like many people, we have MyWay, Opal and Myki cards.

With each State and Territory having seperate pricing and fare structures and things like Weekly Fare caps, it’s probably technically very difficult to have one universal card or have the systems talk to each other.

That issue aside, my understanding is that the upgraded ticketing system was to enable our buses to run cash free (LR is cash free) by basically linking your prepaid MyWay or bank card to a “transport account”, enabling the correct fares, peak and non-peak fares to be calculated etc.

Hopefully, those initial plans are what we get. I’d be a complete failure if we end up with nothing

Etags in cars work all across Australia. It’s ridiculous that the same hasn’t been implemented for transport cards.

John Coleman, it does! That’s good then. I must have clicked on an old link just before I wrote that. The old link said credit cards couldn’t be used. Good they now can.

GrumpyGrandpa wrote, “With each State and Territory having seperate pricing and fare structures and things like Weekly Fare caps, it’s probably technically very difficult to have one universal card or have the systems talk to each other.
Why should it be difficult? Each city should still be able to set their own prices. You get charged for whatever journey you are taking, and where the journey is taken. It’s a matter of programming. It would be better though for simplicity, to have an agreement to have similar charges. Even if a bus service was private and they charge more, this should still be possible to use the travel card, and the fee is transferred to the private company (minus fees). Just make sure you have enough money of the card.

GrumpyGrandpa10:46 pm 06 Mar 24

I can’t imagine the government going to an election with 3G closed off and no ticketing system in place. That would simply be incompetent and together with uncertainty about the route, travel time and potential cost for 2B, could be the end for their 23 year reign.

I think it’s more likely that the government will ensure the new ticketing system is in place and they’ll be selling it like crazy, as a bold achievement. Whether it’s well designed or not, that’s another matter.

Not to say the libs have no plan. However no plan is better than a terrible waste of money. Did any of the recent ticket systems break even, let alone provide a source of revenue.

Buses should be free because it takes 8 years to replace a system.

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