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Transport for NSW

Data, technology, pilots and trials essential to live up to high expectations
The Better Infrastructure Initiative identified ten industry exemplars that share a vision for infrastructure’s future - in partnership with customers and stakeholders. Transport for NSW is one of those 2018 exemplars.

Stewardship challenge

Sydney now has a population of 5.1 million, which grows by 2 percent annually. By 2056, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) expects NSW will have more than 12 million residents.1 Sydney will be a global city similar in size to London or New York, and its transport networks will need to handle 28 million trips a day. The NSW Government’s 40-year Future Transport Strategy, the first transport plan in Australia to harness technology to improve customer and network outcomes, seeks to provide the framework to manage that growth. With Sydney Trains experiencing consistent and ongoing growth of patronage (July Opal trips grew by 15 percent from 25.5 million in July 2016 to 29.5 million in July 2018) the stewardship challenge is whether TfNSW’s planning can meet the pace of change.

The NSW Government’s Future Transport 2056 plans investments in large transport infrastructure projects, such as Sydney Metro West that will link Sydney CBD and Parramatta, and the Sydney Metro City and Southwest that will upgrade the Bankstown Line addressing one of Sydney’s biggest rail bottlenecks. It also provides a framework for planning and investment decisions for a range of smaller projects and trials are underway that seek to improve customer experience and deliver outcomes.

Customer Satisfaction Index

To gain insight into the changing needs of customers, TfNSW has developed a Customer Satisfaction Index, which reflects the voices of over 17,000 customers. With an approach focused on “co-design” TfNSW aims to identify factors that impact customer travel experience and assess, test and validate solutions. This collaborative approach has a high rate of success in providing solutions that address the root cause of customer pain points. TfNSW’s customer satisfaction has recently increased 9 percent with buses and trains with service innovation playing a key role.

Open data

TfNSW are supplying real-time data to apps with over 1.8 billion unique customer downloads in total. The Open Data program aims to enable developers, technologists and data analytic centres opportunities to create innovative solutions for customers. Using data channels developers can create the next generation of real-time transport apps.

Contactless  payments

TfNSW has expanded its contactless payments trial to Light Rail and Sydney Ferries so that customers can now pay for fares using a credit card. Contactless payments offer a convenient alternative to an Adult Opal single trip ticket without needing to buy a ticket from an Opal ticket machine. Sydney’s role as a global tourist magnet – NSW attracts 30 million visitors a year – means that contactless payment will not only benefit tourists, but commuters who will experience reduced congestion updating their own Opal cards at peak tourist times. Contactless payment can  now be access to pay fare on services that run to 57 locations across Sydney, including popular tourist destinations like Manly, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, the International Convention Centre, Star Casino and Sydney Fish Markets.

Young drivers

Young drivers are over-represented in fatal crashes and are a high-risk group on NSW roads.

Research shows that telematics-based feedback might be effective in improving the safety of young drivers by changing behaviours associated with crashes and near-misses, such as speeding and harsh braking and acceleration.

The NSW Government is trialling in-car technology with 1000 drivers who will be able to install a telematics device in their vehicle that will be linked to their smartphones, to record and rate driver behaviour such as speed, acceleration, braking and turning. The technology has the potential to not only save lives but also reduce Green Slip prices for young drivers.

Connected vehicle technology to keep traffic flowing

Recognising that heavy vehicles take a long time to stop and start, which can cause delays for all road users, the NSW Government has announced a trial to expand the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) which will allow trucks to be able to “talk” to traffic lights. This trial will detect a heavy vehicle approaching traffic lights and provide more green time, with the aim of easing delays for all motorists.

On-demand public transport

The Transport for NSW On Demand Transport pilot program was launched in November 2016 to identify and pilot creative new ways to deliver transport services on demand. The overarching objective was  to improve understanding of how different models could improve customer outcomes and value for money, with data from each pilot to be used to inform improvements across the entire network.

Following a competitive market process, TfNSW launched 11 on demand public transport pilot services, between October 2017 and May 2018, operating across Greater Sydney, Illawarra, the Central Coast and Newcastle. The pilots were scheduled to run for a minimum term of six months with the ability for TfNSW to extend contracts for up to 24 months.

On demand public transport services allow customers to book a vehicle using an app, online or phone, for pick up from either home or a convenient nearby location, taking customers to a local transport hub or point of interest.

To date there have been more than 100,000 passenger trips, and patronage growth across the trials has been positive with incremental week on week  growth. Customer satisfaction survey results confirm customers are very satisfied, and believe the on- demand services provide a better alternative to other the transport options available to them.

TfNSW are looking at on-demand differently to many jurisdictions, looking at opportunities to truly integrate on-demand services with existing transport networks – and this is driving major changes in thinking on how the whole integrated transport network is designed to deliver better customer services.

Transport planning in regional NSW

In Regional NSW, efforts have traditionally centred on public transport services and roads that get people and goods to Sydney. People in the regions often want to get to their nearest regional centre. A key focus of Future Transport 2056 is therefore to improve local connectivity through the development of a hub and spoke network model.

This network model focuses on providing connections to regional cities and centres, not just Sydney. Capitalising on the role that regional cities and centres play as hubs for employment and services such as retail, health, education and cultural activities, services are based on a range of modes, reflecting the level of demand and distance for journeys.

The 30-minute city

In Sydney TfNSW have traditionally focused on providing peak services to Sydney CBD and east of the metropolitan area. Initiatives in Future Transport 2056 aim to deliver the Greater Sydney Commission’s metropolis of three cities – the Eastern Harbour City, the Central River City and the Western Parklands  City - where people can access the jobs, education and services they need within 30 minutes by public transport or walking and cycling.

A hierarchy of multi-modal corridors will support travel to one of the three cities or metropolitan centres within 30 minutes. City-shaping corridors are major trunk road and rail public transport corridors providing higher speed and volume linkages between our cities and centres that shape locational decisions of residents and businesses. City-serving corridors are higher density corridors concentrated within 10km of metropolitan centres providing high frequency access to metropolitan cities/centres with more frequent stopping patterns whilst centreserving corridors are local corridors that support, buses, walking and cycling, to connect people with their nearest centre and transport node.

TfNSW has the stated purpose to make NSW a better place by shaping and managing a connected transport system. Through a range of trials and initiatives TfNSW is well positioned to deliver continuous improvement in network performance. TfNSW has recognised that a possible impediment to further progress is the absence of a comprehensive set of performance and evaluation metrics by which it can assess its performance in increasing transport coordination/integration. TfNSW  is seeking to increase its knowledge of both ‘best practice’ and ‘next practice’ in the area of integrated performance measures, using its Research Hub to foster collaboration between TfNSW, the tertiary sector, industry and other government agencies that are interested in transport and related research.


  1. Transport for NSW. 2018. Future Transport Strategy 2056. Available: https://future.transport.nsw.gov.au/plans/future-transport-strategy.