JUST how hard can it be?
Introducing electronic ticketing for the state’s public transport system would seem to be a reasonably straightforward task. After all, there are plenty of systems operating around the world that seem to work without too much fuss.
In Hong Kong, there is the Octopus card, which covers travel on the city’s trains, buses and ferries – pretty much the same requirement in NSW.
Octopus cards can be bought at all railway stations, where they can also be topped up. You simply hand over your card and cash and the transaction is done. You can even use the card to buy small items from participating convenience stores.
For some reason, replicating such a system in NSW has come with a display of incompetence that now appears to have become bipartisan.
First, there was the Labor government that spent millions on its Tcard system, which turned out to be a complete flop. Now, the Liberal government appears to be floundering with its Opal card rollout.
It is not too much to expect to be able to buy an electronic ticket for rail and other travel from a railway station. But it is not so. Here, the ticket can only be bought online and only with a credit card. For a considerable number of rail users, that is a ridiculous inconvenience.
As the incredulous Sophie Ray says in this edition, it puts the Opal card out of reach of those who don’t own a computer or don’t use credit cards.
For the rest of us, it prompts a well-worn question: Why does it appear to be so hard to get things to work properly from the outset in NSW, especially when other places throughout the world can get the job done with minimal fuss?
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