UPDATE: All of NSW transport services are now compatible with contactless payment, as buses have finally made the switch.
When Transport for NSW first introduced the ability to pay for your transit fare using your credit card or phone’s contactless payment functionality, the feature was rather limited.
Initially, it was only available for light rail and ferries, and you wouldn’t receive any of the rewards that you normally would when using your Opal. Now, much of this has changed.
As Transport for NSW has officially partnered with CommBank, passengers paying for their train, light rail, Sydney Metro or ferry fare using contactless payment will receive the same benefits as if they used an Opal card.
This includes off-peak pricing, the transfer discount applied when changing between modes of transport, the half price fares after travelling eight times in a week, and the caps applied to daily, weekly and Sunday trips.
Although the partnership is with CommBank, this is simply due to the company's key role in Australian contactless payment infrastructure and any format is compatible – including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and smartphone systems.
There are some caveats however – the system only applies to adult fares, so senior and concession commuters will want to keep using their physical Opal cards for the time being.
While buses don’t yet have access to the feature, they’ll be getting it “soon”, according to the Transport NSW post, so we can expect to all-but ditch our Opal cards by the end of the year.
Uber joins the party
Another win for Sydney commuters comes from the likes of Uber, which has started to roll out a new feature for its ride-sharing app that integrates public transport information as an alternative to get to their destination.
Sydney is the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to see the feature added, and only the fourth in the world following Denver, Boston and London.
When users select their destination using the company’s app, the “Public Transport” option will appear beneath the regular host of Uber offerings, and once selected, it will show real-time transit alternatives including bus, train, ferry and light rail.
Included in the details on offer are the pricing of the whole trip, how long it will take, as well as directions to walk to the nearest station, bus stop or ferry terminal.
Uber is using Australia as a testing ground for a few of its services – passenger drone service Uber Air will be trialled in Melbourne in 2020, and the company has launched ScUber in Queensland to take passengers on a tour of the Great Barrier Reef.