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.
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.