Sydney's transport system requires users to tap a physical plastic card or, more recently, their payment cards. But that could all be made easier with the state government announcing it will be introduce another option for those living in or visiting the city — contact-less payments via wearable devices.
According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, the government is planning to introduce the digital Opal Card trial in 2020 with the vision that it could eventually transition to a subscription service for transport users.
"In the not too distant future, I envisage a subscription style transport service where people use their Digital Opal cards to pay for a subscription service for transport — like Netflix," Andrew Constance, the NSW Minister for Transport and Roads said.
"The digital Opal will be used to pay a nominal fee each week or month for unlimited access to all public and private public transport providers."
Right now, however, the trial to include a digital Opal Card on a smart device, like a phone or smartwatch, will only be available for those wishing to pay a full adult fee — concession fares won't be available when the trial goes live in the coming months. If the trial, which will run for about a year according to the report, is successful, it'll be implemented more widely taken other options into account.
The digital card is also set to work with other modes of transport outside of the government's network, including taxis and Ubers.
Using credit cards instead of Opal Cards was introduced to Sydney's train system back in November 2018 after successful trials on the city's ferries and light rail service. It wasn't until September 2019 that the full network became wholly capable of supporting credit card payments without an Opal Card with the addition of buses to the system. At the time, it had recently introduced off-peak fares, the weekly travel reward and transfer discounts like physical card holders had.
Digging through your purse or pockets every time you enter public transit can be a hassle, so last year Australian biohacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that's his legal name) had a chip from an Opal transit pass implanted in his hand. The chip allowed him to tap on or off of trains in Sydney with a wave of his wrist. That is, until last August, when transit officers handed him a fine for travelling without a valid ticket, despite still having $14.07 still left on the chip.