Light rail plans are progressing fast, which got me thinking about the different options for doing ticketing for these services.
First off I think it is likely the service will have to either not accept cash fares or will need to provide ticket machines at all Light Rail stations. This is because I doubt the driver will be easily accessible to passengers like a bus is. In fact I often wonder if making it easier to get a HOP card, or allowing contactless card payment and moving away from cash fares in general, would be a good thing.
The second debate will be whether tagging on/off happens on the vehicle or on the platform.:
Similar to a bus, passengers would tag on/off as you board/alight the service. This is what Melbourne does with two Myki readers for each door, however, I believe you are encouraged to not tag off as all trams are within zone one and thus the fare will be deducted whenever you tag onto your next service which speeds up dwell times.
Since our system will cover more than one zone if done this way it is likely that we would have to tag off meaning longer dwell times than Melbourne due to slower alighting. However, it would be great if HOP did just remember your last tag on and deduct whenever instead of charging a penalty if you forget.
The advantages of this system are it is very cheap and easy to understand but will probably result in longer dwell times.
On the Platform
This would be similar to how our train network works with tag posts at each station platform or potentially at some stations gates. The key with this will be making sure, unlike the current train network we are not stingy with the number of tag posts as this will slow everything down. The downside of this option is that especially if not enough tag posts the platforms could become crowded reducing amenity as well as safety. It could also result in people missing the service because a large line of people trying to tag on.
Having platform based tag posts is how light rail on the Gold Coast has been set up
Personally, I am more partial to platform based ticketing, but what do you think?