28 April 2021

Cash fares history as government seeks MyWay replacement

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail passengers

Canberra is a step closer to a new public transport ticketing system. Photo: File.

Paying for a bus or light rail ticket with cash is not about to return to Canberra’s public transport system, with the government dropping that requirement in a fresh approach to industry for a new ticketing system.

After deciding in January to return to a full tender process when negotiations failed with its preferred provider, the government has launched a market sounding, pushing out the adoption of a new system to 2023.

It is looking to replace the existing MyWay card arrangement, which is used in 93 per cent of adults trips, and introduce a new real-time passenger information system to replace NXTBUS.

The market sounding, which closes on 14 May, comes ahead of a final procurement approach expected in mid-2021.

The government has decided to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the COVID-forced move to a cashless environment to pursue a 100 per cent cash-free system, based on paying by credit/debit card and mobile phone.

Transport Canberra is also seeking to incorporate a real-time passenger information system into any future ticketing system to enable commuters to plan and pay for their journey within the same platform.

It wants any new ticketing technology to allow users, including disadvantaged groups, to connect with other transport services to allow simpler journey planning and provide more targeted services.

Any new solution will have to cater for concession holders and make the public transport system more accessible to those who most need it.

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Transport Minister Chris Steel said in January that cost had been the sticking point with the preferred provider.

“We want a ticketing system that provides the right technology solution for our city, but it has to be a system that is value for money,” he said.

Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) chair Ryan Hemsley said at the time that he hoped the new tender process opened the door for the type of innovative and user-friendly payment methods adopted in NSW that had proven popular.

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David Shiels9:17 am 02 May 21

I agree that we need an Australia wide solution.
we could call it cash……
and for those who are concerned about handling it we could use an alternative. and call it tap and go…

I don’t use buses frequently n haven’t for a few years but the other day I had my car at the mechanics. Being on a pension I live week to week and couldn’t afford an uber home or back to pick my car up. Great idea came to mind, ‘ i’ll catch a bus’. So I suss out all the buses and the out of the way connections I’d have to make to get closest to my destination.. I have a bad back so walking far isn’t an option. Anyhow, I write it all down after sussing it all out and thought brilliant, this won’t cost alot of money only time which I had that day. Then to my complete disappointment I see they don’t accept cash and I couldn’t buy a MyWay card anywhere in the area I was. This is such a pain for the people that don’t use buses often and if I were a visitor this would also stop me from using buses to get around. Maybe if I could use my debit card that would have been OK but to not be able to use cash or a debit card is just silly when u can’t access a MyWay card in the area. Lucky for me the mechanic rushed my car through and I was able to just sit around for n hour in the end but I was very disappointed n deterred from using buses in Canberra again. I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to. So if your going to take away cash payments then at least give us the option of using our debit cards. And not everyone uses mobile phones to pay either so please make it an option to use your actual debit card..

HiddenDragon7:34 pm 30 Apr 21

But for the mulish determination to persist with light rail to the south (and eventually every other point of the compass) regardless of cost, something like this might have been affordable, thus obviating problems about payment modes and options –


The evaluation later this year of the Luxembourg experience will be interesting –


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