10 May 2024

MyWay+ starts 'learning journey' around public transport network before November launch

| Ian Bushnell
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Transport Minister Chris Steel with the new MyWay+ travel card on one of the four electric buses used a learning platforms for the new ticketing system. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

Four electric demonstration buses with the long-awaited new ticketing system on board will hit the road on Monday, ahead of a full launch across the public transport network in November.

Passengers will travel for free on the four buses because the new system, MyWay+, will be ‘learning’ about the bus network using artificial intelligence, and the drivers will also be getting up to speed.

This progressive learning process will continue throughout the year, and in October, the full suite of new equipment will be installed across the Transport Canberra network and fleet.

All passengers will enjoy a free ride during a two-month transition phase, with full operations starting in November.

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Transport Minister Chris Steel said installing new equipment on the demonstration buses was a key milestone for the MyWay+ project.

“It will allow our bus drivers to understand the MyWay+ functions and support the technology to ‘learn’ our public transport network by collecting geolocation data,” he said.

Canberrans who catch a demonstration bus will not have to tap on and off with their existing MyWay card.

The enhanced MyWay+ system will provide journey planning and more accurate real-time passenger information and include simple ticketing options, such as tapping on and off with a phone, smartwatch, debit or credit card.

But it will be slightly more expensive to use a credit card than the new MyWay+ travel card because it won’t be as smart in determining journey times.

The new MyWay+ card will also be available at wider variety of vendors, who will only have to scan the card’s QR code to add value.

Mr Steel said the move to the 4G and 5G supported system would be timed to take into account Optus switching off its 3G network in September to ensure a smooth handover.

But it would mean a shutdown of the fare system during the bus fitouts, testing and hard switchover, which would cost the government about $2.5 million in lost revenue.

One of the four MyWay electric buses that will allow the new ticketing system to learn the bus network.

Mr Steel said the MyWay+ system would be linked with the ACT digital account, where Transport Canberra customers would be able to manage their account, including applying any concessions, together with the new app.

There would be more to come on the app closer to the switchover.

Mr Steel said installing new equipment in October would include 1000 validators, driver consoles and 25 ticket vending machines at light rail stations and major interchanges.

“Throughout this installation phase during October and November, no fares will be collected from passengers to allow a seamless switchover to the new service expected for full launch in November,” he said

“As we prepare for the MyWay+ switchover later in the year, Canberrans should continue using their existing MyWay cards for bus and light rail services.”

Mr Steel also urged passengers to register their existing MyWay card, if they had not already done so, to assist in balance transfers and refunds when the new system comes online.

“The switch to MyWay+ has many components, so we will work closely with the community and a range of stakeholder groups to ensure a seamless transition,” he said.

Transport Canberra will provide regular updates in the coming months on the transition process to the new MyWay+ system, including balance transfers and refunds.

The ACT Government contracted tech firm NEC in February 2023 to supply the next-generation ticketing system in a deal worth $64 million over 10 years.

This came seven years after the move to a more capable system was first flagged.

Transport Minister Chris Steel shows how its done. A phone or credit card will also do the job.

NEC is working on MyWay+ from its Canberra facilities in Majura and will use a local ACT team, including staff from Transport Canberra, to operate and maintain their component of the system throughout the life of the contract.

NEC’s Head of Smart Transport ANZ / Global Centre of Excellence Lead, Mark Messenger, said the MyWay+ system would help to significantly improve the public transport experience in Canberra.

“It will give citizens flexibility in how they pay for their travel as well as ensuring they’re better informed of their travel choices before and during their trips,” he said.

Mr Messenger said drivers would also benefit from additional facilities such as turn-by-turn navigation support, schedule access support for on-time travel, a better integration between the ticketing system and the driver console.

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MyWay+ will cover multiple travel modes across light rail, bus, e-scooter and rideshare/taxi options, aiming to be a simple, secure and seamless way for Canberra commuters to get around town.

It is also expected to minimise fare evasion and fraud.

MyWay+ is expected to produce high-quality geographical, passenger and real-time data that Transport Canberra will be able to use to manage and measure network performance, patronage and fare revenue.

The search for a provider that could deliver exactly what the Territory was looking for was dogged by delays in a fast-changing technology landscape, but the supply of MyWay+ has been on track since the contract announcement.

Transport Canberra says the new system will be worth the wait because it will have many features that were not previously possible.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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