You can now catch a ferry or Sydney’s Inner West light rail with a credit card, as new contactless payment technology is rolled out on Opal readers across the city.
The change follows a nine-month trial on the Manly ferry, with Transport Minister Andrew Constance saying there was “overwhelmingly positive customer feedback”.
The government is hoping to add the train network to contactless payments by the end of 2018 and Sydney buses “shortly after that”.
“Obviously, with this new technology, customers also have the option to tap on and off using mobile wallets on smartphones, tablets and wearable devices that are linked to their American Express, Mastercard or Visa card,” Constance said.
Axel Boye-Moller, Visa’s ANZ head of product said the trial is part of an accelerating shift towards a cashless society.
“Australians have a keen appetite for new ways to pay, including via smartphones and wearables. Recent Visa research found 8 in 10 people would be comfortable using a smartphone for every day payments and 23% of Australians would likely use a smartwatch or other wearable for everyday payments, if they had one,” he said
Ferry and light rail users are charged the full single-trip fare — meaning you don’t get the discounts offered when using an Opal card.
Andrew Constance said the Opal card was the best value for regular commuters, offering transfer discounts and lower fares.
However now there is an extra level of convenience for people who don’t have an Opal card, have forgotten to top it up or don’t travel regularly,” Constance said.
The contactless payment trial will continue in 2018 and Transport for NSW is also working with EFTPOS to see if it can be included.
The announcement comes as Sydney Trains cut 94 services — less than 1% — from the timetable from this week in what it calls a “tweak” following January’s network meltdown.
Early morning and late evening services on the Northern, North Shore, Bankstown, Cumberland and Carlingford lines are most affected by the changes.
Rail workers are also currently voting on an improved pay and conditions offer from the NSW government following protracted negotiations that almost saw the network closed down by a strike last month.