AUSTRALIA: ‘Open payment’ technology enabling passengers to use credit and debit cards instead of dedicated ticket media is to be trialled in Sydney during 2017, New South Wales Minister for Transport & Infrastructure Andrew Constance announced at the Future Transport Summit on April 18.

The announcement was welcomed by Cubic Transportation Systems, which supplied Sydney’s Opal smart card system and was Transport for London’s technology contractor in the development of what it says was ‘the world’s first open payments system’. Launched on London buses in 2012 and expanded across the city’s transport network in 2014, contactless payment by bank card accounts for about 1 million trips/day, or more than 25% of trips in London.

‘We're all about making Opal even better’, said Constance. ‘Cubic and the team behind it have done an incredible job. Now we want to use the technology behind Opal to further enhance the system.’

The intellectual property rights to the system developed for London are owned by TfL, which is offering to license the technology to other transport bodies. A TfL Finance & Policy Committee meeting on April 21 is due to authorise a fixed-price proposal for licensing the back office software and associated services and supporting customisation to meet local needs. Pricing would be on a commercial basis, and TfL would retain all intellectual property rights.

London-style open payment is ‘a major advance into the future’, Cubic Transportation Systems President Matt Cole said. ‘For commuters, it means an end to topping-up funds on a smart card and a convenient option. For transport operators, it means expanded customer services and potential efficiencies.’ Open payment ‘would continue to operate alongside Opal, as in London’, said Cole. ‘It’s not a replacement for smart card ticketing, but an enhancement to the system to provide more options’.

  • TfNSW has awarded CSC a three-year contract worth more than A$100m to consolidate seven IT networks used by 25 000 staff at hundreds of locations into one system, and provide ongoing IT network management.

An article about the development of London's contactless payment technology appeared in the September 2014 issue of Metro Report International magazine.