NSW Transport sharing passenger occupancy alerts on Opal Travel app

The aim is to ensure commuters can continue to social distance while travelling on public transport.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: NSW government

Transport for New South Wales is using predictive data to enable commuters on Sydney trains and metro access to real-time notifications about passenger occupancy for the service they are travelling on through the Opal Travel app.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the real-time passenger capacity alerts will help commuters know whether there is space to maintain physical distancing from others while travelling.

"The new feature is a world leading piece of innovation that uses real-time capacity and predictive data to help customers make better choices when travelling," he said.

"We have already implemented the green dots across the network, and the notifications are another way we can help maintain physical distancing and keep people COVID safe."

The alert system was developed with Amazon Web Services, Tigerspike, and AppJourney.

The opt-in alerts will initially be available to registered and unregistered Opal cardholders, who have travelled in the last 21 days by train or metro, and have the Opal app's latest version.

Notifications will be sent to commuters 30 minutes before commuters start their specified trips.

See also: Citizen data compromised as Service NSW falls victim to phishing attack  

The system will also be used to alert commuters about trackwork, delays, and major incidents during their travel window.

Transport for NSW said it plans to roll out the system to light rail, ferry, and bus "soon".

This is the latest initiative by the NSW government to ensure citizens remain COVID safe. In September, its QR code COVID-19 contact tracing scanner solution went live state-wide.

The technology allows customers to use a QR code scanner that has been integrated into the latest version of the Service NSW app to check in at hospitality venues and Service NSW centres across the state, which will enable contact tracers to quickly access customer details for potential COVID-19 contact tracing.

In the same month, NSW Health confirmed that it had requested from Transport for NSW Opal card data in its contact tracing efforts.

"NSW Health can be provided with Opal card data if the initial case provides their card number and is registered with Opal," a spokesperson said.

"When a passenger tells contact tracers they have travelled by public transport, TfNSW provides the details of other registered Opal cards used on the same service, as allowed under legislation.

"This information is treated with strict confidentiality, as is all information accessed by contact tracers, including information from the COVIDSafe app."

In March, the state government began rolling out automatic pedestrian signal crossings in the immediate vicinity of major health precincts across greater Sydney to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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