Cubic Transportation Systems

Australia: Cubic and New South Wales Government Launch Opal Card Trials

Trials have begun in Sydney of the new Opal smart card system for public transport, being installed by the Cubic-led Pearl consortium.

“This is one of the world’s great cities and we are delighted to be bringing to Sydney a world-class electronic ticketing system (ETS), based on the London Oyster card,” said Steve Shewmaker, president of Cubic Transportation Systems.

Shewmaker said the ferry trials were an important landmark which showed that the project was progressing on time and on budget.

“When the Government awarded the $370 million ($AU398 million) contract to the Cubic-led Pearl Consortium in May 2010, we committed to a target for commuter trials to begin on December 7, 2012. We’re delighted to have met this key milestone.”

The NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, recently unveiled the new Opal card and announced details about the ferry trials. Berejiklian said the trials would be used to fine tune the system, which would then be rolled out across greater Sydney. By 2015 Opal equipment will be operating on 42 ferry wharves, more than 300 train stations, on 5,000 buses and also on light rail.

“London has the Oyster, Hong Kong the Octopus and now Sydney has the Opal card. It will transform the way people get around, making public transport more convenient and seeing the end of ticket queues and fumbling for coins,” said Berejiklian. “The roll out is complex and we are taking our time; we have learned from overseas that progressive roll outs work best.”

The managing director of Cubic Australasia, Tom Walker, who is heading up the Pearl Consortium project, said Opal is a massive scheme.

“Geographically it’s the biggest electronic ticketing system in the world. The greater Sydney area covers 40,000 square kilometers, stretching from the heart of Sydney to north of Newcastle, south of Wollongong and west across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst,” said Walker. “In contrast, the London Oyster card’s footprint is over 8,000 square kilometers.”

“The progress made so far owes much to the close working relationship that Cubic and the members of the Pearl Consortium have forged with Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), the State Government and public transport operators in the greater Sydney region,” said Walker.

Opal Card Facts

• The Opal card was named after the NSW official gemstone, the rare and valuable black opal.
• Most of the world’s supply of black opals comes from the arid desert country around Lightning Ridge, about 700 kilometers inland from Sydney.
• When she announced the name Opal for the new card late last year the Minister said it had been chosen from a list of 665 suggestions. Opal won because it was uniquely Australian, short and easy to say.

Pearl Consortium Background 

The Cubic-led Pearl Consortium team includes;
• Commonwealth Bank of Australia — the country’s largest bank
• epay Australia — the leading provider of pre-paid products to retailers
• Downer — one of Australia’s biggest engineering companies
• Parkeon — a world leader in on-board bus equipment.