Will credit card payments for public transport signal the end of Opal?

Monday 29 January 2018

Article by Kelly Emmerton

The end of Opal cards might be coming sooner than Sydney commuters think - but it has nothing to do with the recent chaos of the trains system and everything to do with the increasing popularity of contactless credit card payments.

Will credit card payments for public transport signal the end of Opal?

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance suggested that alternative payment methods might soon become a more common occurrence on public transport, following a successful trial where commuters could use their Mastercard to “tap on” for the Manly ferry.

Pending feedback from users, the government is pledging to expand the alternative payments system across the network to buses and trains as well. According to Constance, the technology to do so already exists within the current systems, and wouldn’t require a massive overhaul to implement.

“There’s an inbuilt chip that already exists in the hardware, so we’ve got the hardware available, what we want to do is provide people with choice,” he said.

“So they can use their iPhones, their smart watches and of course contactless payment through credit card.”

After Opal’s big drawcard - free travel after eight trips in a week - was changed to half-priced travel after eight trips in a week, there may not be much incentive left for commuters to stick with their Opal card, with the convenience of tapping their credit card, debit card, mobile payment apps or wearable technology on offer.

A similar change is taking place with Melbourne’s Myki system and in Queensland, where a trial is set to start in late 2018 or early next year in order to test alternatives to the current Go Card system, according to the Daily Mail.

This would mean that instead of shelling out $10 for a Go Card, Queensland commuters can simply tap and pay with their credit card or debit card before jumping on public transport.

“The future of public transport ticketing across Queensland’s TransLink network will involve credit and debit card contactless payments,’’ a TransLink spokesman told the Sunday Mail.

“We have been working closely with a number of companies to explore world-class technology solutions to upgrade the current go card ticketing system.”

Need a new piece of plastic in your pocket before the changes to our public transport system come in? Make sure you head over to compare credit card options first.

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