Trials have begun in Sydney, Australia of the new Opal smart card system for public transport, being installed by the Cubic Transportation-led Pearl consortium.
The ferry trials help show that the project is progressing on time and on budget.
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."
Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. is part of San Diego-based Cubic Corp. (NYSE: CUB).
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