If you live in, or have visited, the Sydney, Blue Mountains, Wollongong/Shoalhaven and Newcastle and Hunter regions, then you will be familiar with Transport for NSW’s travel smartcard system called Opal. As we’ve previously reported, there are a couple of apps including Transport for NSW’s official Opal Travel app which gave Opal users the ability to find out their balance on their smartcard as well as getting the latest travel information and the ability to plan your trip.
Today, Andrew Constance, the Transport Minister in NSW, has today launched the new Opal Travel app. Amongst other things, users can now top up their Opal cards without being redirected to use Chrome or other mobile browsers to complete the transaction. The update also brings the following features and improvement to Opal Travel app version 2.0:
- Set their Opal card to auto top up and never queue or manually top up again.
- Top up through the app and within 60 minutes collect the value at the next tap on.
- Find the nearest Opal retailer if they want to acquire an Opal card or top up.
- Plan the quickest and most convenient trip and estimate what the fare will be.
- Easily check those additional Opal cards linked to a single profile so the kids, or family members, are ready to go.
Announcing the update to the press, Andrew Constance said:
“It’s clear that customers are keen to use their mobile phone as part of the transport experience, with over 300,000 downloads of the older Opal Travel 1.3 version app.
With this new app, travelling with Opal just got even easier. With just a few presses on the screen, customers can check their balance, top up and plan their travels for the day.
Public transport is as much about delivering new and innovative technology as it is about delivering better infrastructure. We need to embrace both or we’ll be left behind.”
The announcement comes on the eve of the Future Transport Summit, headlined by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and 350 guests from some of the world’s leading technology and transport organisations such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Fujitsu, DELL, Samsung, GE Oracle, Salesforce, Nokia, CISCO, Intel, NEC, Paypal, NBNCo, PegaSystems, CUBIC, SAP, Siemen, Twitter, Telstra, Transport for London, Sydney Airport Corp, Qantas, Uber, GoGet, Toll Group, Transdev, ITS Australia, TTF, Volvo, Transurban, Keolis Downer, Linfox, as well as leading universities and financial institutions.
Furthermore, it was also announced today that Transport for NSW will commit to a trial in 2017 to allow customers to pay for public transport by tapping on and off with their credit and debit cards.
“NSW is proud to be leading this Australian first. Contactless payment with credit and debit cards would offer customers another easy to use and convenient option for travelling,” Mr Constance said.
“Only a few major mass transit systems, similar in scale and complexity to Sydney’s, have introduced contactless payments. London’s Oyster card system is a well-known example, where they only finalised their rollout in late 2014.”
This kind of payment system has been in place in London under its Oyster system (which NSW’s Opal Card system is based off, utilising the same company – Cubic Corporation) in which customers can simply use their Visa/MasterCard Debit and Credit Cards to tap on and off when travelling on Sydney Trains/NSW Train Link regional and Intercity networks, Buses, Light Rail and Ferries.
“A lot of critical work needs to be undertaken in the first stage of this project such as finalising partnerships, working with the finance and contactless payments sector, developing the software and then in 2017, undertaking a customer trial.” Mr Constance told the media.
Opal Travel version 2.0 is now available to download for free from Google Play and you can hit the link below to check it out.