Public Transport Ticketing System

26 Nov 2003 questionsarchive
A question put forward to The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) regarding smart cards and public transport.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, representing the Minister for Transport, a question regarding smart cards and public transport.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I am informed that the current Crouzet ticketing system requires replacement some time within the next four years. For some time, replacement with a smart card system has been mooted and, most recently, an article in The Advertiser of 30 June 2003 reported that a smart card system has been investigated for this state’s public transport system. The experience of Hong Kong, just one of many international cities which first adopted the system in 1997, is that smart cards have been very useful, as signified by their popularity. More recent features include the ability of the card to be continuously topped up by the banks. As has been put to me, it is like ‘a never-ending packet of Tim Tams’.

Hong Kong’s technology is actually supplied by an Australian firm, the ERG group, based inWestern Australia.

However, take-up of smart cards is often poor until a significant retailer or service provider (often referred to in the vernacular as a ‘killer app’) drives the up-take for other applications, and the governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia are at various stages of implementing smart card systems. The Advertiser article to which I referred previously quotes minister Wright as stating that there are significant financial and technical risks, indicating some reluctance to adopt this technology and relegating South Australia to being the poor technology cousin rather than a smart state. My questions are:

1. Can the minister explain what technical risks exist, when such a system has been provided by an Australian firm and has already been operating in other cities such as Hong Kong for the past five years?

2. Is the minister simply awaiting evaluation of the system in other states prior to considering its adoption in South Australia?

3. If so, when does the minister expect the system to be given serious consideration in South Australia?

4. Will the minister guarantee that any new system will be available prior to the redundancy of the existing Crouzet system?

5. Is the minister aware of the ERG group and other Australian organisations that have this technology capability, and has he made any approaches to such firms?

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer those questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.


Tuesday 17 February 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (26 November 2003).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Transport has provided the following information:

1. There are always technical risks in such large, complex projects. These arise from different system architecture and the customisation needed to meet different fare structures and concession systems.

Smart Card systems also require customer account keeping (which current systems do not) and these require stringent privacy provisions. The systems being proposed for Brisbane and Perth buses are swipe-on/swipe-off’ systems which are not used overseas. The use of Smart Card systems in Adelaide may also require a different ticket distribution sales system.

2. No, I am not simply awaiting evaluation of the system in other states prior to considering its adoption in South Australia.

Rather, I am waiting for when it would be most advantageous for South Australia to make such a change, given the significant cost of a replacement system and the current satisfactory performance level of the existing system.

3. I expect that the Office of Public Transport will re-examine the cost benefit of such a system in 2004/2005, by which time any issues with the implementation of Smart Card systems in Perth and Brisbane will be known and costed.

4. Yes.

5. Any system procurement will be in accordance with State procurement guidelines. It would be inappropriate for me to single out any one supplier.Various suppliers of such systems periodically contact the Department.