What’s Opal Next Gen? Operator tapped to stay on longer as $568m upgrade hits hurdles


The planned contract for the bus fleet will involve installing new driver consoles, passenger counters and computer and communications systems.

Coalition transport spokeswoman Natalie Ward said the Opal system was a state-critical asset, and a lack of transparency on the upgrade was concerning.

“When government and technology upgrades mix, it is always risky. Delays and a lack of detail say this could be a disaster waiting to happen,” she said.

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Jo Haylen said the government was confident the Opal network would meet passengers’ needs as it gradually transitioned to a new ticketing system.

“Natalie Ward’s desperate scaremongering about Opal Next Gen shows that the Liberals have nothing serious to say about public transport,” she said.

Senior transport officials have warned since at least early 2022 that the existing system’s hardware is “reaching end of life” and needs to be replaced to ensure fares are collected.


Infrastructure NSW, which advises the government, will review the transport agency’s tender documents for the Opal project before they are released to market.

The agency said it undertook market-sounding as part of the tender process in late 2022. It was followed by a “request for information” from the industry in the middle of last year “to provide further information”.

The modernisation of the ticketing system was first announced in June 2022 by the previous Coalition state government, which described the upgrade as “like a Netflix for transport”, allowing commuters to order ride-share or e-scooters as well as using it for public transport.

Signalling that it is set to bid for the Opal upgrade, Cubic said it looked forward to reviewing the tender when it was released, adding it was positioned to bring new developments to benefit the state.

“As the developer of the Opal card system, we would like NSW commuters to continue to enjoy a system that is on par with New York, London and other major cities,” it said in a statement.

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