SA to join Myki, Tcard smart card ticketing party

SA to join Myki, Tcard smart card ticketing party

Summary: South Australia is following NSW and Victoria down the path of cashless smart card ticketing for public transport, with AU$29 million laid out in its budget over three years to kick start the system.


South Australia is following NSW and Victoria down the path of cashless smart card ticketing for public transport, with AU$29 million laid out in its budget over three years to kick start the system.

Ticketing for the state public transport system's 812 buses, 99 trains and 15 trams will be automated by the scheme, with implementation due to begin in 2009/2010. However, it is unlikely to be operational until 2013 when a new block of funding will be approved, according to a spokesperson for the South Australian Transport Minister, Patrick Conlon.

The department has been working on specifications for the project for about a year, the spokesperson said, which should be ready in another three months, after which the tender process will begin.

The SA budget, handed down this week, showed that maintenance of the current ticketing system is increasing due to its age, with an estimated AU$1,200 to be spent per 10,000 validations in 2008/2009 — for 67.4 million journeys, that adds up to around AU$8 million.

The system is also failing to validate tickets, costing the public transport AU$500,000 a year according to the spokesperson — a cost the department hopes to recoup with the new system.

Despite plans to avoid the rising costs of the current ticketing system, the South Australian government will tread carefully as it chooses its supplier, after seeing other states battle with implementing their planned ticketing systems.

"We are obviously interested in the adventures of our colleagues interstate," the spokesperson said, adding, however, that South Australia's system will be a smaller system. "We're not talking about the volume of transit in Sydney and Melbourne."

NSW's automated ticketing system Tcard was cancelled in January after the government baulked at giving a fourth extension to ticketing company ITSL to implement the system.

The government is currently embroiled in a law suit, having filed with the Supreme Court to retrieve the around AU$90 million which it is out of pocket.

ERG Group's parent ITSL subsequently filed a counterclaim for over AU$200 million saying the termination was unlawful, and that the project did not work due to a lack of government cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Victorian smart ticketing system — Myki — looks unlikely to surface until 2012 and has suffered a cost blow-out of AU$216 million, according to Fairfax reporting last month.

Victorian Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky has previously said the AU$500 million Myki ticketing system — originally due in 2007 — would be ready in 2010.

AAP contributed to this article.

Topics: Government AU, Emerging Tech, Government

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Watch out

    Another smart-card disaster in the making
  • Who wrote this?

    What about the fully functioning smart card system which is implemented in south-east QLD with integrated ticketing by TRANSLink?

    Is Brisbane some little dot on the map which doesn't exist, or was this story not researched?
  • custom builds are stupid

    why oh why do aust. state governments believers in custom built solutions? This is stupid and illogical. Why not just buy off the shelf SYSTEMS (and processes) that are known to work well.
    For Gods , just buy a copy of the HK Octopus card system and install it. It works.
    While I'm raving, why do we (NSW) insist on building our own trains? Why not buy commercially successfull systems like Bombardier Transportation????
  • Perth anyone?

    What about Transperth's Smartcard system for its buses, trains and ferries in "dullsville" aka Perth? It has been running for over a year now with minimal problems and as a regular public transport system, has been very successful. This should be a model that other capital cities use in developing their own systems
  • We do (did)

    Bombadier is just another name for Commonwealth Engineering, a company that built train carriages in NSW for a very long time.

    We are allowing the Chinese to build the frames for the new trains, a decision I don't like because it costs jobs here and the company chosen has never built double-deck cars before.

    We've already seen what importing trains does in Victoria - trains built then imported by a supposedly reputable company, Siemens, had faulty brakes from almost the word go and the Vics had to revert to trains they imported from Japan years ago.

    As far as custom builds go, they aren't all failures. Sydney's current magnetic stripe tickets already do what the NSW Government wants of the contactless tickets. My weekly lets me travel on buses, trains or ferries and I can go as far as I please however many times I please in that seven day period.

    Back to ticketting, I fail to see why Sydney needs a new system at all. Smart cards have been around for at least twenty years so people playing the modernisation drums have nothing to argue for. All the current reliable system needs is a bit of reprogramming to allow for the new lines that are about to open up.
  • Exactly what I was thinking!

    Research people, research!
  • $$$$$

    Why do they want a new system?

    Because they can make more money off you if you pay per kilometer.

    Greedy pigs.
  • New Trains

    I thought the new trains for NSW where being built by Downer EDI rail and they are building a nice big structure for it up in Cardiff. Maybe the frames are being built there then the rest in cardiff.
  • Yep

    The frames/chassis for the new rolling stock are being built in China and then sent here for fitting out. EDI was born out of Clyde Engineering, who has been building trains in NSW since the steam age. I think this company has enough expertise to build the whole train here however the NSW Government has approved otherwise, for financial reasons of course.
  • Strange that Perth was not mentioned at all.

    I think it's a bit odd that Perth wasn't mentioned in the article. The system here is very good. Easy to use, no problems I am aware of. It even lets you use direct debit to your bank account when the balance drops below a threshold. Gives you a 25% discount for doing so as well. It covers all buses, ferry's and trains. Why the other states refuse to look at what Perth is doing is beyond me.
  • Cause

    Adelaide NEEDS new public transport so bad
  • Sounds like a 'free ride' for someone, at who's expense?

    Apparently a little 'lobbying' is all it takes to keep the public servants heads under a rock. The Dutch government canceled their dumb 'smart card' ticketing scheme after students spent their days riding the Tube for free and charging up their 'smart cards' with aplenty of spending money. Boston tried to prevent students there publicising similar adventures.
    Flawed technology and it will just be another fiasco.

    If anything the government should be looking at mobile ticketing, it would have saved Victoria and NSW hundreds of millions, been faster to implement and easier for consumers to use.
    Miki will never work and NSW will never see a working 'smart card system. Pure fantasy.
    SA looks to be going down the same road.
    I question whether any sane accountant could justify spending $29 million to save $500,000 a year, until they need to replace the whole lot in a few years, probably before it is even deployed.
    Where are they getting these funds?.
    I know of no investor who would make such a deal.