T-card derailed for good?

Disclaimer: Personal opinion only. Please use the automatic gates when leaving the station.
Photo: CityRail Ticket Vending Machine (complete with Tcard graphics and buttons) at Carlingford railway station.

The Sydney Boring Herald reports that the T-card ticketing project for Sydney’s public transport system may indeed be on its last legs. A notice of intention to terminate the ticketing company’s contract by the State Government has been issued to ERG.

For those of you who are unaware of what this system was supposed to be, it was supposed to be a smartcard based ticketing systems covering Sydney’s trains, government and private buses and government ferries. For instance, it would be a Sydney version of London’s Oyster system and a smartcard version of Melbourne’s Metcard system.

Originally due to be installed for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the latest contract was signed in 2001 with a 2005 deadline for full integration across the various transport services. Buses in Sydney had been using the system on a limited basis for school student travel however the system to date has only had limited unsuccessful trials, especially on Sydney’s buses.

Despite this, some pieces of equipment were installed on buses and train stations but it is possible that this equipment will never be used.

At the moment, there is only one ticketing product that can be used across all public transport in Sydney based on magnetic tickets. Pensioners can travel the entire system for $2.50 per day on the one ticket including private buses with a ticket called the Pensioner Excursion Ticket (PET). However, this has not spread across the system.

A similar ticket to the PET for other people using current ticketing technology has seemingly been ignored for people who live in areas that do not have government bus services. Indeed on many private bus services, it is not possible to buy ticketing products available to government bus services including a Travelten, where you use the one ticket to have 10 bus trips.

Another ticket that is available to private bus company customers in certain areas are known as “Bus Plus” tickets, allowing weekly train travel and selected private bus services. However, the vast majority of private bus companies do not have such a ticket.

Maybe it is time to forget the smartcard technology at the moment and get the basis (or the skeleton) of the ticketing system right first using the current (magnetic) ticketing technology including an expanded daily and weekly option for a huge number of Sydney commuters who do not have integrated ticketing between private bus and trains. After all, the government did it for the pensioners so why can’t they do it for everyone else? Imagine if the coin that has been put into the Tcard project had of been used to improve the current system? The SMH states that the State Government has spent $64 million on the project since 2002 and for what result?

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3 Comments

Filed under News, Work

3 responses to “T-card derailed for good?

  1. BJ

    It was another great opportunity missed.

    With the announcement of T-card should have been the announcement of a streamlined ticketing regime across all forms of public transport that everybody understood.

    T-card was like a banking system, a backroom for funds clearing between the ticket sellers and various transport operators.

    But like all things technological, there are limits – especially when you are dealing with an inflexible beaurocracy who refuses to change its ways.

    Melbourne is a great example of how a simple ticketing system can be successful and popular. The entire metro area is split into just 2 zones. You choose your zone(s) and whether you want a 2 hour, 1 day, weekly, monthly or yearly pass – and you use the one ticket on all trains, buses and trams as much as you like. It’s simple, and everybody understands it.

    Again we missed the boat.

  2. Jem

    well erk! You website has convinced me! im going to have to start listening to your podcasts now :)!

  3. Erk

    BJ – Thanks as always for the comment. You are exactly right, especially about Melbourne.

    Jem – Thanks for the comment! I hope you have a listen to some episodes and I hope you enjoy it! :)

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