Sydney's public transport network has its shortcomings, but paying fares isn't one of them. Getting a valid ticket has been just a tap away since Transport for NSW introduced contactless payment via bank cards in late 2018. In early 2020, authorities will be aiming to make paying a fare easier still, by trialling digital Opal cards that allow passengers to tap on via their smartphone.
The digital card will be a one-stop-shop for all modes of conveyance across the public transport network and will also work with taxis and Ubers. In January, a delivery partner will be commissioned to develop the virtual Opal card, which will then be perfected during a one-year trial by several thousand specially selected commuters. It will feature both a pre-paid subscription model and the typical pay-as-you-go system. If successful it will be rolled out to the wider public at some point in 2021.
The move to make passenger fares entirely digital is in step with a number of federal and state government initiatives developing virtual alternatives to the common documents most of us have stuffed in our wallets. In October, the NSW government announced the introduction of digital driver licences, following successful pilots in Dubbo and the eastern suburbs, which can also be used as a valid form of photo ID.