The NSW government plans to introduce smart card ticketing for all public transport services in Sydney.
The Department of Transport issued a call for proposals for an integrated ticketing system earlier this week. Minister for Transport Carl Scully said a single card would be used for trips on all rail, light rail, ferry and both public and private bus services.
"It is proposed the smart card system would be used by all passengers to boundaries of the CityRail network which extends to Lithgow in the west, Goulburn in the south west, Nowra in the south and Dungog and Cowra in the north," Scully said.
A department spokesman said the system would be based on similar projects in London, Singapore and Hong Kong, in addition to the existing controversial system in Melbourne.
Scully said the call for proposals would seek private sector options for the development of a system that delivered value for money to commuters.
The spokesperson said the department would let the marketplace decide the technical specifications of the system. However, he said the system would have to be user friendly, reliable, have adequate security, accurately apportion revenue and accurately reflect the trips taken. No decision has been made on whether the cards would be disposable or renewable.
The department was unable to determine how many people use public transport, but indicated it would be well over one million. Up to nine hundred thousand people caught trains every day.
Smart cards look like credit cards but carry a microprocessor that can store information and perform functions. Cards can be read by being inserted into a smart card reader or by passing within the radius of a smart card reader's antennae. The spokesman said the department would prefer "contactless" smart cards.
"Plainly, there is an advantage to contactless smart cards in speeding up the boarding of passengers," he said.
According to smart card company Gemplus, global smart card use is growing overall at 38 per cent a year, while the growth rate for smart cards in the transportation sector is expanding at 70 per cent annually. Scully said the government was on track to implement integrated ticketing by 2002. The closing date for proposals is September 24.