[Update 2010.04.12 08.58] Further coverage in today’s Sydney Morning Herald alleges dubious behaviour surrounding Cubic Transportation Systems’ latest tender bid and details certain inappropriate conduct ironically exposed in a court case brought against the NSW government.
[Original post] The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the Pearl Consortium has been awarded the tender from the NSW government (specifically, the Public Transport Ticketing Corporation [PTTC]) for the task of providing Sydney an electronic ticketing system. The value of the contract is $1.2 billion with a timeframe of three years.
Pearl Consortium includes the US-based Cubic Transportation Systems, which manages the operations of London’s Oyster card as well as smart cards in Singapore and many American cities.
This announcement comes almost two years after the Tcard system developed by the ERG Corporation (creator of Hong Kong’s Octopus card) was scrapped in mid-2008 after much discontent for many. The Tcard was first promised to be operational in time for the 2000 Olympic Games. This got pushed back to full implementation in 2007, but after unsuccessful trials the contract was terminated. The Government sought to recover damages only to be hit with a counterclaim from ERG Corporation for wrongful termination of contract. The matter is still before the courts. The estimated cost to the taxpayer in this botched partnership is around $300 million, which is not a meagre amount compared to the raucous over the expected $500 million cost of scrapping the Metro.
Only three months after terminating the ERG Corporation contract, the procurement process to deliver a new electronic ticketing system began again with expressions of interest to the PTTC in August 2008. Fifteen submissions were received, but only three were shortlisted and advanced to the proposal stage in March 2009. Proposals were due in July 2009, which was an extension of one month after one entity dropped out due to commercial reasons. Almost ten months later, the contract has now been offered to Pearl Consortium.
Will Sydney have a smart card system operational by 2013-2014? The MyZone rebranding has helped to reduce the complexity of the previous system. Further rationalisation of ticketing in Sydney will be required before a smart card can be comprehensively introduced. I think it will be unlikely that another ticketing system overhaul will be seen in the next few years.
Given the government’s recent track record, I need not say more.