Vic gets myki, NSW gets SMS?

Vic gets myki, NSW gets SMS?

Summary: The most insulting recent attempt by the NSW Government to win votes before the March 2011 election is the Metrobus SMS trial announced earlier this week.


The most insulting recent attempt by the NSW Government to win votes before the March 2011 election is the Metrobus SMS trial announced earlier this week.

Bus stop

(Waiting for the bus image
by Ben Cumming, CC BY-SA 2.0)

If you're standing at a bus stop and you're unsure when the next bus is, you can SMS the bus number to 0488 TXT BUS and the company will respond with the appropriate times.

With smartphone use on the rise in Australia, people must want something a bit better than an SMS telling them the times for a single bus on the Sydney network. Sure, we have TripView for the iPhone, but it's not like the government had anything to do with that.

My favourite transport-related app is TramTracker, for Melbourne's tram network. Not only does this provide an up-to-date timetable, but thanks to GPS installed in each tram, the application can tell you exactly where the tram you want to catch is on the network.

That's not to mention that when you do get on the tram, if you have a myki card, it's a simple swipe of that card to pay your fare.

Sure myki was not without its teething problems, but compared to the on-going troubles with NSW's ill-fated Tcard system, it looks like a utopian implementation of smart card technology.

An SMS notification system smacks of a government trying to look as though it is doing something — anything — for transport in New South Wales before it is, if the polls are right, thoroughly booted out of office by the voters in March 2011.

Topics: Government, Emerging Tech, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Well, I'm pretty new to Sydney and I don't understand this public transport at all. (from WA where we've had smartrider tag on/off system for last five years)

    So I jumped onto the NSW government's web site to do a trip planner to work out what to catch where and when. Works great.
    But, how much is it? No idea, it doesn't tell you. Have no idea what ticket to buy. The planner says one of the busses is pre-pay only, and to purchase a ticket from an authorised outlet.

    So, I walked to a 7/11, asked the person at the counter, I'm going from here to here, one bus, one train, what ticket to buy? He doesn't know. of course he doesn't know, why should he know? I have to tell him which ticket I want? I've got no idea, the trip planner didn't tell me what ticket to buy, how many zones it is or anything like that. But apparently they expect a person working in a deli to know? Idiots.

    If I'm want to get on a bus to go from one end of the cbd to the other end, I can't cause I haven't prepaid a ticket for the trip. I have to go find a news agent and try and buy a ticket that I don't know which ticket to buy for a one off trip.

    What a load of crap.

    P.S. sorry for the vent, but I'm pissed off with the massive waste of tax payer dollars for a system that would work better if they went back to cash.
  • Completely agree with andrewdw! Come to Sydney from Brisbane where I've been using their Go Card touch on/off system, and I want to catch a bus from point A to B. I get on the bus only to find I have to have a pre-paid ticket, so I went to a 7/11, and exactly the same scenario - they have no idea what ticket I need. So how are you supposed to catch a bus if they don't accept cash and you don't understand the zone system?
    And a thin cardboard ticket with a magnetic stripe? What is this 1975?
  • Typical gen y, blogs before he thinks. Firstly, Josh, have you actually tried it? It covers more than a single bus (all buses arriving in the next 30 min). Secondly, the majority people do not have smartphone (I know, it's shocking). If it was a smartphone app, what should the majority do? It's simple, and it works. Thirdly, this is only the beginning. More services will be covered, and I'm sure your precious smartphone app is just around the corner.
  • And to add to liger's reply: comparing the new SMS service that provides live real time data on bus arrivals (albeit in a simple text format at this stage only) to TripView that is useful and looks pretty but provides only static timetable (which you need to update on the smart phone every time operators change their timetables and they do change their timetables frequently), entails a huge misunderstanding and ignorance on the reporter's about basic issues. The infrastructure developed to facilitate the SMS bus arrival service is a backbone for the development of further services for both operators and passengers and smart phone apps are the easiest of those.
  • Considering how long they've had to get one going, it's a pretty poor effort at this point.

    I can view the entire CityRail and StateBus network in the TripView app. Simple and static, yes, but much more than the SMS of the same static timetable of one bus route.

    Josh Taylor
    Josh Taylor
  • No one said this is a trip planner. 131 500 already has that (you can call them or, as a Gen Y dude, go to their web site) and probably TripView gets its data from there anyway. It is a different usage. You are at your office, home, or wherever you go for your tweets and you intend to leave soon and want to know when you're bus arrives at the stop around the corner without going there as it is raining. Or, you're at the stop that is serviced infrequently and you want to know whether to stay there, get some coffee and come back, purchase a newspaper, or, if you're in real hurry, catch a cab. It currently covers all metro services (7 routes in both directions that are used extensively by passengers and not just one route). And finally, it is NOT static information. It is based on what the buses are actually doing in REAL TIME. Timetable is only displayed for those trips that haven't started yet and few other minor scenarios.