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Smartcards for Canberra buses moving forward

By johnboy - 8 July 2009 45

Jon Stanhope has announced that moves to smartcard ticketing on ACTION buses are progressing with Downer EDI Engineering Power Pty Ltd signing up to replicate the SmartRider system they built for Perth.

    “Canberrans can look forward to a new ticketing system that is fast, easy and flexible,” Mr Stanhope said. “It will offer bus users a reusable and rechargeable card for travel on all ACTION buses.

    “Bus users will be able to recharge their smartcard over the internet, phone or at other card facilities across the ACT. A one-use ticket will also be available for casual users and tourists.

    “Bus users will be required to tag-on and tag-off buses, which will significantly improve ACTION’s capacity to monitor passenger trends and make adjustments to meet changes in demand.

Have any of you had any exposure to the Perth system? Care to share the experience?

What’s Your opinion?

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45 Responses to
Smartcards for Canberra buses moving forward
SheepGroper 12:59 pm 08 Jul 09

Action buses already tried a zone system, Tuggers was in one, Belco was the other and Civic/Woden was the third. People still complained.

Icepoet 12:52 pm 08 Jul 09

Does anyone remember when they tried to impliment bus zones around 10 years ago? It was a disaster. I remember living in Braddon and having to pay 2 bus fares to travel to university (at Bruce), simply because Bruce was zoned into the Belconnen area. Even then it depended on the individual bus driver whether I was charged for crossing the zone or not as it was right on the border of the City and Belconnen zones.

I don’t think that system lasted very long at all and while I’d be happy to pay a fare for the distance travelled, zoning is never going to work in the ACT. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who to be penalised simply for living on the wrong side of an imaginary line.

damo1 11:45 am 08 Jul 09

I’ve also used the Perth system (having recently moved back to Canberra from there), I wasnt a regular user but i did use it it worked just fine. You would sometimes have to queue for maybe 15 seconds to tag off at the train stations in peak hour, but it wasnt a big deal, and anyway that won’t be a problem here in Canberra.

Thoroughly Smashed 11:30 am 08 Jul 09

It’s about time. This should satisfy those that complain that the fare’s the same whether they go 3 stops or 30.

Funny how that doesn’t stop the complaining. 🙂

Dagget66 11:08 am 08 Jul 09

Queensland Transport have a “Go Card ” system that sounds Identical.
Worked sensationally for me , but there were many gripes of discontent ….
There was implementation problems iirc … But they were sorted fairly quickly.
They use a zoned type system ie the more zones you travel through the more you get charged.
If you failed to swipe off , you were charged a flat $5 fee .

Like I said fantastic for some , crap for others .

I like my bike commute better than being crammed on a train / bus anyway 🙂

toriness 10:57 am 08 Jul 09

sounds like the oyster card in london? brilliant!

i am all for user pays – especially when it comes to public transport – flat rate is BS.

muFasa 10:57 am 08 Jul 09

I’ve used the system in Perth and it is great – but the other great things about the system in Perth was that you could actually get on a bus in peak hour, it was comfortable, they have good security and it was an affordable mode of transport.

If they brought that in here I might consider going back to catching a bus, until then, my car is much more reliable.

tortfeaser 10:42 am 08 Jul 09

Sounds like a way to start charging fares per unit distance or time rather than the current flat rate. I can understand some in inner suburbs aren’t keen on the flat rate, but for those in the boonies it at least isn’t a further disincentive to public transport.

astrojax 10:39 am 08 Jul 09

it works very well in honkers, but i agree with ian that they’d have to look at tagging on and off to precipitate some sort of zoning fares thing, which would be needed.

but the concept of going into any little convenience store or many other places and simply being able to pay to top up the card is brilliant – and from memory most tagging stations tell you your balance…

Mr Waffle 10:34 am 08 Jul 09

I absolutely adore the Suica smart card system in Tokyo, hopefully they don’t stuff this up. And more importantly, I hope it can be linked to any future smartcards in Melbourne (whose trams are going to be run by a company that uses the Octopus smartcard system in Hong Kong), Sydney etc, to make a national network where you can just hope on and off any public transport without every having to pay for a ticket. Well, I can dream…

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:32 am 08 Jul 09

Yes, let’s use the same flawed overkill technology used by megacities for our rural wagon network.

Bring on the clones.

Ian 10:26 am 08 Jul 09

No experience with Perth buses, but the tagging on/off works fine in Singapore.

One thing it will do is enable distance based fares, so the trip down the road might cost $1 and the Conder-City trip $5 for example, which is more equitable than the current flat fares. In fact it would be very hard for ACTION to justify the current fare structure once they have installed such technology.

Having said that, I’m guessing the TWU will find some objection to the tagging off, and the government will fold and end up with some half baked compromise.

Skidbladnir 10:26 am 08 Jul 09

Have a look at their arrangements maybe, Caf?

Won’t the tag on / tag off process delay people in boarding and alighting Transperth services?

Tagging on takes approximately 300 milliseconds (or .3 of a second). Compared to the current MultiRider validation (of 1-2 seconds) this is significantly quicker.

Current technical specifications allow for up to 35 people to pass through the fare gates in a one minute time period. Buses have card processors at both the front and back doors to ensure quicker departure and tagging off times. Slower boarding and disembarking times may occur while the system is still new and people are adapting to a new behaviour. Please be patient during this period.

Will I need to tag on and tag off each service?

Yes, in most circumstances. Tagging on and off each service doesn’t mean you are charged each time, the transferring function that exists with the current ticketing system still exists with the new SmartRider system. When you transfer onto another service and tag on (within the 2 or 3 hour free transfer period) SmartRider will recognise this as a transfer.

What will happen if I forget to tag on and off?

The new system operates on a tag on / tag off basis. This means when you first board you tag on with your SmartRider card at the processor and when you alight you Tag off at the processor. If a card is not tagged off when alighting a Transperth service, a default fare will be charged the next time you tag on.

The default fare will be the cost of a fare to the final destination of the bus, train or ferry service that you have boarded. For train services, the default fare is automatically set to 4-zones.The Default fare exists to ensure all passengers tag on and tag off at the beginning and end of their journey to pay for their travel on Transperth services.

sepi 10:18 am 08 Jul 09

Seems like overkill to me. They already know where demand is – those buses that don’t even stop for people waiting, cos they are already full.

They have huge demand in many morning peak services, and they don’t have any extra buses to put on.

So this smart card data might give them lovely graphs for their annual report but spending the money on more buses would probably do more to actually meet demand.

caf 10:12 am 08 Jul 09

“Bus users will be required to tag-on and tag-off buses,…

Oh yeah, that’ll be REALLY efficient. Smooth move.

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