If at first you don’t succeed, try again is the
approach of the New South Wales government’s Public Transport
Ticketing Corporation (PTTC) which has called for tenders for
implementation of a smartcard ticketing system in Sydney,
The contract will be the second attempt at
introducing a smartcard ticketing system, dubbed Tcard, for use on
the city’s trains, busses and ferries.
According to the tender the revived Tcard
system would be based on a contactless stored value ‘ticket’ which
could take the form of a smartcard or, potentially, incorporated in
a mobile device. A complex challenge, the Tcard solution must
incorporate PTTC’s 500 ticketing variants.
The call for tenders follows the New South
Wales (NSW) government’s termination in January 2008 of a contract
with Australian electronic fare collection specialist ERG Group to
develop and implement the Tcard system.
At the time of termination of the A$350 million
($285 million) contract, which commenced in 2003, ERG had begun
limited Tcard system trials on busses and envisaged public trials
on trains and buses by mid-2008. Full-system operation was
anticipated in 2009.
In a statement following the termination, ERG
chairman Colin Henson hit out at the NSW authorities.
“The key thing that distinguishes the Tcard
project from so many of ERG’s successful projects around the world
is the unwillingness of the government to work with ERG in
developing and deploying a world class system,” said Henson.
According to ERG it has delivered systems that
support 32 million smartcards and handle 6.5 billion transactions
annually. Among projects similar to Tcard implemented by ERG is San
Francisco’s TransLink programme based on ERG’s smart card
technology. The first phase of TransLink was implemented in 2003
with full implementation due in 2009. TransLink covers train, bus
and ferry ticketing of 20 transit operators.
Following termination of the contract ERG found
itself facing an A$89 million damages claim filed by the PTTC for
late delivery of the project. ERG counterclaimed by filing a A$200
million damages claim against the PTTC.