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It has been trumpeted as the smart card of the future - a one-stop ticket that works on all of Sydney's trains, buses and ferries.
The trouble is, it is six years late and the Government is planning to charge commuters up to $20 for the privilege of using the technology.
Passengers may even have to pay again for a new Tcard if they lose theirs.
Despite launching the device with much fanfare yesterday, neither Transport Minister John Watkins nor his mandarins could say exactly how much the card will cost.
Coming on top of the price of a journey and outrage over the high price of road tolls, it is sure to infuriate already beleaguered commuters.
Tcard is a new ticketing system being developed for public transport in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area.
When introduced, Tcard will provide customers with the convenience of a single-payment card for travel on all trains, buses and ferries, as well as light rail and monorail.
Tcard uses smart-card technology, similar to the ticketing systems in Hong Kong, London, Seoul, Singapore and Rome.
Travellers top up their card before travelling with funds bought either at ticket offices or online. They must then swipe their card on starting and finishing their journey.
Funds are automatically deducted from the card.
Exact issues about the costs of the cards and traveller accounts are yet to be developed.
But John Stott, chairman of the Interim Ticketing Board, said: "There will be a card issuing fee of less than $20."
The simplified School Tcard was introduced this year for use by more than 280,000 school students on private buses as part of the School Student Transport Scheme allowing for glitches in the system to be ironed out before it is rolled out across the metropolitan area.
Yesterday Mr Watkins unveiled plans to test the scheme next year in the inner west of the city in mid-2006.
Plagued with delays, the $600 million program will be rolled out to the greater metropolitan area by mid-2007.
The smart card is one of the Government's big hopes for enticing commuters back on to the city's under-used public transport system. It is designed to make transport quicker and more efficient.
It had been planned for the 2000 Olympics and was then promised in the Government's Action for Transport plan in 2002.
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