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At Cubic’s operations in Sydney, we’re excited that the trials have begun here for the new Opal smart card system which is being designed and integrated for the city’s public transportation by the Cubic-led Pearl Consortium. The ferry trials are an important landmark for the Opal card, and demonstrate that the project is progressing on time and on budget.
Geographically, Opal is 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 at Bathurst. In contrast, London’s Oyster card’s footprint is 8,000-plus square kilometres, which includes the city of London and the surrounding metropolitan region where Oyster has been extended onto the National Rail.
The NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, recently unveiled the new Opal card and announced details for the ferry trials. Berejiklian said the trials will be used to fine tune the system, which will 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 the light rail.
Here are some interesting facts about the Opal card:
· The Opal card was named after the New South Wales official gemstone, the rare and valuable black opal.
· Most of the world’s supply of black opals comes from the arid desert country around Lightning Ridge, about 700 kilometers inland from Sydney.
· When she announced the name Opal for the new card late last year the Minister said it has been chosen from a list of 665 suggestions.
· Opal won because it was uniquely Australian, short and easy to say.
The Pearl Consortium team which Cubic heads up also includes the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest bank; epay Australia, the leading provider of pre-paid products to retailers; Downer, one of Australia’s biggest engineering companies; and Parkeon, a world leader in on-board bus equipment. Exciting times are ahead of us in Sydney!