18 August 2021

New public transport ticketing system another step closer

| Ian Bushnell
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The days of using MyWay to catch the bus are numbered. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A new public transport ticketing system to replace the MyWay card could be in place by the end of next year.

The timetable for the cashless fare collection solution and integrated real-time passenger information system for both bus and light rail is set out in its new two-stage procurement process, starting as an expression-of-interest approach to industry that will shortlist providers.

This will be followed by a request for proposal to identify the right provider to deliver the new system.

The EOI, which closes on 16 September, comes after a market sounding in May.

The government broke off negotiations with its preferred provider in January after it could not agree on price and returned to a full tender process.

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.

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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, replacing the current Nxtbus service.

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

The EOI document says that the system might also allow users to pay for a range of other services, including demand response services, travel to special events, Park ‘n’ Ride facilities, taxis, bike and ride-share options.

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

It should also be easy to use and make for quick boarding and alighting of passengers.

Transport Canberra also wants to minimise fare evasion and fraud, so the new system should incorporate security measures such as a fraud engine that scans all transactions.

It wants the new system to provide not just real-time information for passengers but also a real-time picture of the network and its vehicles for transport managers.

According to the timetable, the government hopes to engage a supplier in February 2022, have MyWay and Nxtbus removed and the new system installed and tested in August, and transition to the new system in October, with a handover in place in November.

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I’ve seen so many passengers get on now, without a card or a card with no money on it, knowing that because TC isn’t collecting cash fares, they can ride for free. Most of us pay, but there are a lot who choose not to.
Don’t worry scammers, you still won’t have to pay, if they introduce a new ticketing system. All you have to do is leave your wallet containing your credit and debit cards at home or claim it was stolen and you can continue to ride for free
because the Government is too soft.

The current pre-paid card system works fine. Changing it will disadvantage huge groups of the public which are the ones who have to use the system.
Reliance on credit cards is out of the question – too many people from school children to pensioners do not have credit cards and the suggestion contradicts the push towards responsible money management and reduction of ever increasing debt.
NEVER use tap and go on a personal bank card – it encourages and facilitates fraud and identity theft, same with having personal bank details on the leaky sieve of mobile phone systems.
It is possible already to prevent any reliance on physical cash transactions. It requires that a card can be purchased easily at convenience stores and news agencies rather than trying to find a MyWay shopfront. It works successfully on the Melbourne, Sydney and London systems from personal experience.

They are still going to have a dedicated card.

And btw as I mentioned in another thread whilst Myway may well work the hardware is quite old and in short supply and there is a lot more people want it to do that the current system cannot do.

And BTW tap and go doesn’t encourage fraud, it is actually safer than swiping or inserting a card into a machine and tap and go uses the same RFID technology as Myway style cards.

Really bad ideas. There is no need to replace MyWay, but perhaps to expand it a little to automatically un-tag any card still registered on the bus/light-rail on the system at the end of the route (like the Oyster Card in London which has been running successfully for decades).
There is already track and tracing facility suitable for the current Covid tracking embedded in the system so no additional tracking is necessary and would border on a police state and breach privacy.
All current and any new public system introduced on government systems is fraught with hacking and allows direct access for spammers and pfishing calls and emails (as happens immediately following any use of MyGov sites).

ChrisinTurner1:27 pm 18 Aug 21

The cost of buying this new system and operating it should be weighed against making the whole network fare-free. to encourage more patronage. A recent US example increased journeys 20%.

The scammers ride free now because “cash” isn’t accepted. When TC goes “cashless”, the scammers just won’t have their wallets!

And yet most systems around the world cope with this very issue day in day out.

The high level story is good if they can get it right this time. If they’d implemented the new ticketing system back in 2016 when first promised, then it probably would have given Transport Canberra better passenger data to avoid the 2019 bus redesign debacle. Removing or changing some of the high patronage bus routes was crazy.

As for free buses. I don’t know how the people who live near one of the 700 bus stops the government removed in 2019 would feel about paying for other people’s bus services. Or all those people from Tuggeranong or Belconnen who suddenly had slower work or school commutes after the network change.

Canberra Transport don’t have a great record of delivering on their promises around: increased bus use; accurate travel information; bus service reliability; and better ticketing systems. It’s been a litany of failures for many years.

I’m not saying the new system is worth doing, but what are the problems with the current one?

I typically use it a couple of times a week and find it quite reasonable except for how long it takes for money I place on it actually become available.

But my requirements are not very demanding, so presumably it is lacking in certain aspects for other people.

What are its shortcomings?

That’s one reason and related to that the Myway back end is rather poor.

Other reason is these days modern ticket systems accept debit and credit cards for direct payment, needing no need for a seperate myway card.

Add to that the existing system is old and parts are starting to come hard to come by.

That makes sense. Thanks

Hi JC. I haven’t travelled on public transport interstate for some time (for obvious reasons), but are you saying that other state systems accept debit/credit cards for payment? If so, bring it on because your next point about parts for servicing being hard to come by becomes moot. The only concern would be that (probably very low percentage) section of the community who are, and will always be for a variety of reasons (Yvon below is an example), cash payers. Not sure how any non-cash system can address those people’s needs.

Yes most other states now have systems that can be accessed with credit/debit cards for payment, simply through swiping them on/off like our current Myway cards.

Grumptymark yes those places accept debit/credit cards.

They still also have dedicated payment cards (like Myway) for those that want a seperate card and also for concession fares.

And even when using a debit card the backend systems calculates daily trip caps etc and applies one charge a day taking all that into account.

Been a few years now of course but used my Aussie credit card last time I was in London rather than buying an Oyster card (London’s version of Myway). Worked great especially as my card doesn’t charge international transaction fees.

Just make it free.
Fund buses with the cost of not providing a system.
Declare victory and leave.

Capital Retro10:36 am 16 Aug 21

That makes perfectly good sense but the government needs control of the people so a system must be in place.

Yep, I’m sure that’s why CR that they want a new bus and tram ticketing system…. so they can control the people….

Don’t know what whacked out world that thought comes from, but it ain’t this one.

Gooterz on your original point – not sure whether you’ve looked and seen just how much transport costs the ACT Budget. not funding the ticketing system might give a bit of extra money for a year, but that’ll be it. The cost of the system is dwarfed by what it costs to run the network. Agree though that free transport should definitely be thought about.

The number prior to the tram were like $5 to run (Give or take introducing and changeover tender processes etc.)

Tickets earned about $10

System cost was $100 million.

However pales in comparison to reduced wear and tear on other parts of the whole system.
One of the biggest hinders to public transport is the ticket costs. While the car might still cost money to run, the car for a single trip once you have it sitting in your driveway is easier and cheaper than a bus.

If the bus is free, it frees those that drive to still consider a bus and can make that decision on the day they want to travel.

You missed my point – which was pumping what (maybe $20 million for the new system – who knows? Even if its $50 million or $100 million) hardly makes zero difference over the medium to long term to the ability to ‘fund buses’. I expect the subsidy now is probably comfortably >$200m, but the transperancy is nowhere to be seen to really work out the true number.

I don’t really buy that ticket costs are such a big hinder to public transport use. Its already highly competitive price wise for anyone working in the major employment areas with paid parking – its just not a very user friendly system for many people, and even if it is free I don’t think that’ll change decision making for many.

True foresight could have seen Canberra have a world class public transport system – but that planning needed to start 50 years ago. Very hard thing to get right as an afterthought.

Capital Retro6:20 pm 16 Aug 21

If you are happy for this government to control your personal information no worries, but don’t complain when a third party gets hold of it and hacks you.

So CR do you keep all your money in bank notes at home? Do you not have a single account with any private entity? Because if you are worried about what might happen to information held by the Government, you’d hate to know what is done day to day with your information by a range a private entities in the pursuit of profit.

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