Source: The Daily Telegraph
CITYRAIL will spend up to $100 million keeping antiquated steel ticket machines on stations until 2017, despite them being made obsolete next year.
A new $370 million ticketing system is scheduled to be rolled out on Sydney Ferries from December and across the CityRail network from July 2013.
But The Daily Telegraph understands commuters won’t be forced to use the new system until at least 2015 after CityRail signed a new three-year contract to maintain the old system.
New digital screens are already being rolled out at ticketing gates on CityRail stations and at wharves in preparation for the introduction of the digital Opal card.
But while they will be ready for operation imminently, CityRail will pay San Diego-based Cubic Transportation $20 million a year to maintain the current ticketing equipment, infrastructure and delivery of associated services on Sydney’s rail network.
The new three-year contract has two one-year extension options meaning CityRail could spend up to $100 million keeping the old system in place – even when it is no longer needed.
A RailCorp spokesman said current ticket gates and other ticketing equipment will be retained and converted for use with the Opal smartcard system.
As part of the 2010 contract, Cubic won the right to provide all operation services for the next 10 years following the smartcard’s introduction, meaning the same company will be maintaining two separate but side-by-side ticketing systems.
“While the smartcard ticketing system is introduced, a transition period is also required to allow customers to migrate to the Opal smartcard,” the spokesman said.
“Certain projects, such as the upgrading of the new ticketing gate display screens which will be compatible with the new Opal smartcard ticketing system, are also included (in the new contract).”
Victoria fully implemented its smart ticketing system, the myki card, across its public transport network in July 2010 and will phase out paper tickets at the end of the year, giving commuters just 18 months to make the switch.
A Victorian Transport Ticketing Authority spokesman said the myki was already used for 61 per cent of all public transport trips.
In London plans are already under way to replace its all-in-one Oyster card – which was also developed by Cubic – with a touchless system that will enable commuters to simply wave their debit or credit card over a reader. According to Cubic, the Opal card will be future-proofed, with the readers capable of using contactless payment via bank cards and mobile phones.