Three-card trick: Phones, watches or credit cards will get you on a CityCat

Ferry riders travelling on adult fares will be able to tap on and off using credit cards and smart watches as Translink launches its new Smart Ticketing system.

Apr 16, 2024, updated Apr 16, 2024

From today, Smart Ticketing will be available to those travelling on full-fee adult fares on Brisbane’s ferries and CityCats. 

 Smart Ticketing is a new payment system Translink has been trialling which allows commuters to touch on and off public transport using their credit card, debit card, or smart device – as an alternative to paper tickets or go cards. 

“We acknowledged in 2018 we needed a modern ticketing solution across our public transport network. Smart Ticketing has ensured our public transport network joins major cities around the world with a seamless ticketing solution,” said Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish. “The system ensures Queenslanders, interstate travellers and tourists can travel our great state with ease.”

Smart Ticketing trials began on Gold Coast trams in December 2020 and have been expanding through SEQ train lines since June 2022. Since then over 13 million trips have been taken successfully using the new technology. 

The government initially indicated that Smart Ticketing would be available on Queensland buses by 2023, but that timeline has since been pushed back.

While all buses in SEQ now have Smart Ticketing technology installed within them, customer trials are yet to be announced, though promised to be introduced on a operator-by-operator basis at some point this year. 

“We thank customers for their patience as we roll out the technology across one of the largest geographical public transport networks in the world,” said Peter Milward, the Acting Head of Translink.

 “We know SEQ bus users are keen to trial the technology as well but we are taking our time to get it right and we look forward to announcing the first SEQ bus trials in due course.”

Minister Mellish called the introduction of Smart Ticketing into ferries an “exciting milestone.”

“Customers have told us they have enjoyed the ease of paying for their journey on trains and trams in the same way they might pay for a coffee with tap-and-go on their bank card, mobile phone or smartwatch,” he said. 

“Whether you’re a tourist exploring Brisbane from the river or you’re a commuter getting to and from work every day, it is now easier than ever to pay for your journey on one of our iconic ferries.” 

Those travelling on a concession fare are advised to continue using their go cards. Adult ferry users may continue using their go cards for now, though Translink has announced the go card system is approaching end of life and will be replaced in time by a more advanced reloadable Translink card, in addition to the Smart Ticketing project.

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