​Sydney commuters can choose Mastercard over Opal for ferry trial

Transport for NSW has launched a trial that will see commuters using a Mastercard card or mobile wallet to tap 'on-and-off' ferries in Sydney.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: Supplied

Transport for NSW and Mastercard have launched the trial of a contactless ticketing payment service, allowing some passengers in Sydney to use their Mastercard to pay for public transport.

The trial service is available to commuters travelling via ferry on the F1 Manly to Circular Quay route and allows commuters to use their Mastercard contactless card or mobile wallets for the service. This means the service is also available via wearable devices that integrate with Mastercard, such as a smartwatch.

Currently, commuters in New South Wales use the Opal contactless card to pay for public transport throughout the greater Sydney region.

The Opal card requires commuters to "tap on" when beginning a trip via bus, train, light rail, and ferry, and "tap off" when they reach their final destination on services operating in Sydney and many of its suburbs.

The trial announced on Friday will see the passenger use their Mastercard card the same way as an Opal.

The trial service supports internationally issued Mastercard cards in addition to domestic ones, with the card giant hoping to demonstrate how contactless ticketing can make travel in Sydney more convenient, easy, and efficient for both residents and tourists.

"Mastercard is committed to providing innovative technology to make cities more inclusive and sustainable, as seen in the success of contactless rollouts on other transport networks in global cities such as London, Milan, and Singapore," said Doug Howe, vice president Enterprise Partnerships at Mastercard, and highlighted the potential for the trial to be extended into other cities.

Mastercard said it is working with over 100 cities globally to enable contactless or mobile payments on public transport services, having most recently worked with Singapore's Land Transport Authority to implement what it called the first contactless ticketing payment program for transit agencies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The NSW government published data on the Opal ticketing system in April, providing a snapshot of how many people travel where and at what time throughout the state.

In August, Transport for NSW announced that it would be utilising Opal travel data to indicate the volume of people travelling on a particular bus service, letting commuters know how full their next bus is before it arrives.

The state government said previously it was also looking into extending the functionality of the Opal card to become a payment platform for all transport related costs across the state, possibly including road tolls and taxis.

Commuters in NSW can also receive personalised messages through Twitter that inform them of disruptions on the state's suburban and intercity train lines.

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