Cubic to build Queensland's AU$371m transport ticketing system

Cubic will be responsible for upgrading the current system to allow for contactless payment via bankcards, mobile phones, and wearables on public transport.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads has selected Cubic Transportation Systems to provide the state with a new ticketing system.

Under the terms of the contract, Cubic will be charged with designing, building, and operating the new ticketing system, as well as assuming responsibility for upgrading the current system to enable the use of contactless payments and allow for gathering real-time passenger information.

Operation and maintenance of the system is also included in the agreement.

The Queensland government earmarked AU$371 million for the upgrade of the public transport ticketing system as part of its 2018-19 Budget delivered last week.

Expected to be rolled out across the state over the next four years, the government said the system will add new customer-facing functionality, including payment by contactless debit and credit cards, mobile phones, and wearable technology in addition to go card and paper tickets.

The new system, using Cubic's One Account technology, plans to allow commuters to use bankcards, mobile phones, and personal electronic devices including watches to pay for travel on public transport.

"This payment solution will bring more convenience and freedom of choice for commuters," Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said in a statement Wednesday. "We're delighted that proven technology already used across London, Chicago, and Vancouver will be further enhanced for the benefit of Queensland commuters."

Cubic currently supplies the state with its go card and is also the provider of the Opal public transport system in New South Wales.

Speaking at the WT Wearable Technologies Conference in Sydney in December, Lance Blockley, managing director of The Initiatives Group and part of the evaluation committee that chose Cubic to rollout Opal, said Cubic was chosen as it fulfilled a part of the requirement that asked all of the hardware to be installed from day one with openloop compatibility.

"In the London system they had to rip out all of the touchpads in the tube and reinstall because they weren't EMV [Europay, Mastercard, Visa] capable," he said. "But here, we are fortunate enough to have the right equipment."

See also: Wearable payments: A gimmick that might take off

Commuters in Sydney now have the option of using Mastercard, Visa, and American Express cards for some public transport trips across the Opal network.

The Victorian government last month announced a selected test group will trial a new smartphone app, Mobile Myki, that allows for the use of Android devices with NFC to replace Melbourne's Myki card for ticketing on public transit.

Commuters in Melbourne shouldn't hold their breath for openloop services, however, as Blockley said Myki is a completely different system to the one Cubic has elsewhere installed.

"You'd love the idea of all of the main metro areas in Australia to be openloop because you could go to any city and just tap-on and tap-on," he said. "Melbourne will be a problem."

Similar issues have been seen in both Brisbane and Perth, but Blockley said they are easier to deal with. The Department of Transport has previously said there is significant development required to get an Australia-wide system.

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