Commuters in Sydney, Australia now have the option to use a contactless smart card to pay train fare.

Cubic Transportation Systems and the New South Wales state government launched the Opal card this month for all train passengers in the Sydney area.

The companies call the Opal rollout one of the largest smart card ticketing projects in the world, as the Sydney trains carry more than 304 million passengers a year and average about 1.5 million trips on work days.

The train rollout was fast-tracked to finish early, as Cubic’s installation team completed installation of Opal devices in 308 train stations in just less than three and a half months, says Tom Walker, Cubic Australia’s managing director, in an April 21 press release.

Cubic was part of a "much larger team working on the Opal train project, including specialists from Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink,” Walker adds.

With the trains and ferries now online, Cubic says its next major task is installing Opal equipment on 5,000 buses in the greater Sydney area with light rail to follow in 2015.

The state government reports that commuters have already taken almost 9 million trips on trains, buses and ferries using the Opal card. 

The New South Wales state government appointed the Pearl Consortium four years ago to establish a new ticketing system in Sydney to replace the Tcard, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Cubic heads that consortium and previously delivered a smart card project in the Southeast Queenlands region of Australia. Its work on the Opal card coincided with the government resolving legal issues with a previous provider of the Tcard in what the Herald called "a botched attempt" to deliver a fare card to commuters.

Cubic supplies transportation payment systems for various large cities, including Chicago. Cubic worked with the Chicago Transit Authority to establish the Ventra Card payment system. After resolving some initial software issues, Cubic began testing mobile payments to eventually advance Ventra payment through smartphones in Chicago.

The Opal and Ventra cards operate on systems similar to the Oyster card in London and the Octopus card in Hong Kong, established in 1997. Cubic also was involved in the development of Oyster.

Most recently, the Transport for London said it will no longer accept cash or coin payments on city buses, requiring commuters to use the Oyster or other contactless cards for payment.

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