8 March 2024

ACT Government pressured to offer free public transport if MyWay+ system isn't ready by September

| Claire Fenwicke
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The MyWay+ ticketing system will be rolled out across buses and light rail in Canberra – once it’s ready. Photo: James Coleman.

The clock is ticking for Canberra’s promised new public transport ticketing system to be up and running as the shut-off date for the 3G network looms.

MyWay operates on the Optus 3G network, which will be turned off in September.

Its successor, dubbed MyWay+ in an announcement around this time last year, finally secured a supplier after having to go back to the drawing board for the tender process.

There were also delays in announcing tech firm NEC Australia as the supplier.

Given the history surrounding the delivery of MyWay+, the Canberra Liberals want to know if backup plans are in place.

“To date, there have been no assurances from the ACT Government that the new system, which was promised in 2016, will be rolled out before the Optus 3G network – which the current system relies on – is switched off or how fares will be collected if the new system is not in place,” Shadow Transport Minister Mark Parton said.

“If the new system cannot be rolled out before the Optus 3G network ceases, the Labor-Greens government should make public transport free during that period.”

The Opposition argued the Labor-Greens government had a proven history of not delivering public transport projects on time.

The party pointed to the new timeline for the light rail track to Woden, now expected to be delivered by 2033, and the replacement of non-compliant buses blowing out from 2022 to an unknown time.

Given that the new public transport ticketing system was announced seven years ago, Mr Parton wanted a firm date for when MyWay+ would be ready.

“Whilst I am sure the Chief Minister would try and sell [free public transport] as a measure to help Canberrans during a cost-of-living crisis [if it comes to it], the fact is it is the only way he can cover up the incompetence of his government,” he argued.

“Canberrans might finally see some benefit from the gross incompetence of the Labor-Greens government through free public transport until the new MyWay system is in place.”

Region approached the ACT Government for an updated timeline on when MyWay+ would be delivered and whether there had been any delays to the project.

It was also asked about the demo bus, which was promised for the first half of this year, and which would allow people to practise the new ticketing method. It was also asked what backup plans were being considered just in case MyWay+ wasn’t ready before September.

Answers were not provided for those specific questions, but Acting Transport Minister Tara Cheyne said the government was “well aware” the Optus 3G network had an end date and that it had been incorporated into the project planning.

“Decisions on pricing and fare structure will be made in the coming months,” she said.

Ms Cheyne pointed the finger back at the Canberra Liberals, challenging them to announce their transport election policy.

“The Canberra Liberals have had 1236 days to come up with a transport policy for Canberra’s future and they still don’t have one,” she said.

“By contrast, ACT Labor is delivering expanded stages of light rail, more electric buses and a new ticketing system to support our growing city.

“Instead of just criticising our policy platform and telling us what they’re not going to do, the Canberra Liberals should release their own plan. A serious alternative government can’t have no plan for public transport.”

The MyWay+ system is expected to be phased in over a transition period once design and development processes have been completed.

About 25 ticket vending machines will also need to be installed, along with more than 1,000 new validators onboard Transport Canberra buses and on light rail platforms.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

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