go card

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go card
Location Brisbane, Australia
Launched 2006
Technology MIFARE Classic
Operator Cubic Corporation
Manager TransLink
Auto recharge Yes
Retailed Online
  Newsagents / Convenience Stores
  Train Stations
  Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs)
Website www.translink.com.au/go

The go card is an electronic smartcard ticketing system developed by Cubic Corporation and currently used on the TransLink public transport network in South East Queensland. To use the go card users hold the card less than 10 cm away from the reader to "touch on" before starting a journey, and must do the same to "touch off" the service at the end of the journey. The cost of each journey is deducted from the go card balance.

The Queensland Government awarded the $134 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain the go card system to Cubic Corporation in July 2003. In July 2006, TransLink signed up around 1,000 volunteers to trial the new smartcard system in the Redcliffe area. The go card was launched throughout Brisbane in February 2008, the go card was available at selected retail stores and Queensland Rail stations. It could also be accessed by phone or online.[1][2][3]


The go card was a major part of the Queensland Government's integrated ticketing system to improve the efficiency and convenience of public transport. In July 2003, the Queensland Government awarded the $134 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain the go card system to Cubic Corporation.[1][4]

Trial Period[edit]

Following the development of the go card, in July 2006, TransLink signed up around 1,000 volunteers to test out the new smartcard system in the Redcliffe area. TransLink installed the new smartcard equipment in Hornibrook Bus Lines and later Brisbane Transport buses. Sunbus's bus fleet also underwent pre-wiring so onboard equipment can be installed later. TransLink also installed new smartcard fare machines at Petrie, Sandgate, Brunswick Street, Central and Roma Street stations.[2][3]


The go card was launched throughout Brisbane in February 2008. The go card was available at selected retail stores and Queensland Rail stations. It could also be accessed by phone or online. TransLink had staff on hand at rail stations and major bus interchanges to talk to passengers about go card and answer any questions.[5]

To encourage the use of the go card, from 4 August 2008 all go card trips received a minimum 20% discount off paper tickets. Regular users who travel more than 10 journeys within a week received an additional discount of 50% off the price of any extra journeys.[6]

On 4 January 2010, to encourage the use of the go cards during 2010, TransLink gave away 400,000 free go cards loaded with $10 credit. go cards users also received off-peak discounts and automatic top-up.[7]

Originally, TransLink had proposed to scrap paper-based ticketing entirely, but following controversy over this proposal single-trip paper tickets were retained, whilst other paper ticket formats (weekly, monthly, daily and off-peak) were abolished. Apart from frequent user schemes, periodic ticketing formats have not been introduced for go card since its inception.[8]

As a further incentive, fare restructuring saw go card users offered substantial discounts in single fares over the price of paper tickets.

SEEQ Card[edit]

In 2012, TransLink launched a new SEEQ Card targeting tourists. The SEEQ Card operates similarly to the go card, but includes:

  • unlimited travel within the TransLink region for a duration of 3 or 5 consecutive days from the first trip (depending on the card type)
  • Adult or Child fare classes (no Concession or Seniors cards)
  • expiry 12 months after the date of purchase if not used
  • 2 trips to/from Brisbane Domestic or International Airports via AirTrain
  • discount offers and tourist information[9]


Fare Classes[edit]

A go card reader

The go card is available in Adult, Child, Concession and Seniors fare types:

  • Adult is for use by passengers without concessions.
  • Child is for use by children under the age of 15 years.
  • Concession is for use by passengers entitled to a concession, such as full-time secondary and tertiary students, holders of a Pensioner Concession Card, and holders of a Repatriation Health Card.
  • Seniors is for use by passengers who have a Queensland Seniors Card issued by the Queensland Government.

Fare Calculation[edit]

When purchasing a go card, a refundable deposit is applied, on top of the starting balance. The deposit allows users to finish their journey even when they have insufficient funds on the go card, although the go card has to have a positive balance at the start of the journey.

To use the go card, users need to hold their card less than 10 cm away from the reader to "touch on" and do the same to "touch off" at the end of each journey or segment travelled (depending on the mode of travel). On the CityTrain network, users are only required to "touch on" at their station of origin and "touch off" at their destination station - transfers between CityTrain services do not require additional touches. On buses and ferries, users must "touch on" and "touch off" for each service boarded.

For inter-modal, bus and ferry travel, TransLink allows go card users to transfer between services (up to 3 times and within 3 and a half hours) without being regarded as having started a new journey.

The fare is calculated and deducted from the go card balance each time the user touches off, based on the number of zones travelled through since the first segment of the journey. On a transfer segment, the user is only charged the difference between the amount already charged and the total fare for the journey.

Users who do not "touch off" are charged a fixed amount which varies depending on the mode of travel. In the event of inadvertent error, technical faults or other excusable circumstances, penalty fares can be adjusted via the TransLink website (for registered go cards) or telephone call centre.


Peak and off-peak is used by TransLink to encourage passengers to travel during non-busy hours. TransLink does this by offering discounts to passengers for traveling during off-peak hours. Peak is from 3am to 8.30am and 3.30pm to 7pm weekdays, except public holidays, while Off-peak is from 8.30am to 3.30pm and after 7pm weekdays until 3am the following day and all day weekends and gazetted public holidays. To qualify for off-peak, the journey or segment must be commenced and completed before the off-peak period ends. If a journey straddles the peak and off-peak periods, the fare system applies an off-peak fare to those segments of the journey commenced and completed within the off-peak period.

Under the current frequent user scheme, go card users are able to travel free after completing nine journeys in a week (Monday through to Sunday).[7] The previous frequent user scheme offered a 50% discount after 10 trips traveled in a given week.


Sale and Top-up Points[edit]

Automated go card top-up machines are located at major transport hubs (such as at Carindale bus station within Westfield Carindale), QR train stations and most stations on the busway network. Cards can also be purchased and topped-up at various retailers, newsagents and convenience stores. go cards can also be ordered online through the TransLink website. Selected bus operators are also able to top-up cards on board, although this is not implemented on services operated by Brisbane Transport.

Users who register their go card online have access to an online portal to enable them to perform automatic and manual top-ups via credit card, report fare issues, maintain their details and download transaction histories. Further, the balance of registered cards can be permanently transferred to another card and the account balance can be frozen if the go card is reported as lost or stolen.

TransLink also operates a phone hotline for customer service, card top-ups and enquiries.

Card Readers[edit]

Card readers are installed on each bus and ferry operating within the TransLink network. On the CityTrain network, card readers are located at each train station, rather than on each train.

Fare enforcement officers, who randomly patrol services, are also equipped with portable card readers.

A typical Go Card Reader

CityCycle Scheme integration[edit]

In March 2012, the then opposition transport spokesman, Scott Emerson, proposed that an LNP government if elected would consider integrating go cards with the Brisbane City Council/JCDecaux-operated CityCycle bicycle hire scheme. A similar proposal had previously been rejected by the incumbent Labor government in January 2012.[10] From November 2012, CityCycle subscribers can link a go card account to a CityCycle account, which also operates on a smart-card based system.[11][12] However, the current integration does not yet allow bicycle hire charges to be deducted from the go card account balance.



TransLink publishes reporting of the usage and uptake of go card in its annual reports.[13]

For the 2011-12 year, TransLink reported that on average 81.4% of all trips on the TransLink network were undertaken using a go card, an increase from 70% for the 2010-2011 financial year and 46.4% for the 2009-10 financial year. Customer satisfaction with go card is reported at 79.9% for the 2011-12 year.[14]


The go card system has attracted several criticisms since its inception.

Initial infrastructure problems and faults were encountered with card readers resulting in users being unable to "touch on" or "touch off". The card readers onboard buses and ferries rely upon GPS for location, so difficulties were encountered where GPS signal was weak, such as in the underground Queen Street bus station.[15] Card reader faults still account for some problems with the system.

Sight-impaired users have reported problems reading the card reader screen.[16]

In 2008, security experts found the cloning of a go card is possible - though no verified instances have yet been discovered - which allow people to clone and use other people's go cards. TransLink have indicated that systems exist to detect fraudulent activity and reject cloned cards, however no details about these systems are available.[17]

In January 2010, in a move to encourage the use of the go card, TransLink changed the fare structure by increasing the price of paper tickets to make the go card cheaper than paper tickets. In some cases the increase was as much as 40%.[18] Although more users were using the go card than before, the move created another issue given the limited number of train stations selling the go card at the time. Some users could not buy the go card and had to continue to use paper tickets with higher fares. In response, TransLink confirmed more stations would begin selling the go card.[19]

TransLink fares continued a trend of "planned" increases by a factor of 15% per year in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 calendar years, sparking concerns about affordability.[20][21] From 2013 the "planned" increase halved to 7.5%. Currently, go card fares are 30% cheaper than paper-based ticket pricing.[22]

In March 2010, a loophole was discovered that allowed go card users to avoid fares on buses by "touching off" at the back door after touching on at the first door, TransLink confirmed that doing this would waive the fare.

In April 2010, during peak hours at major train stations, go card users found it very difficult to touch on and touch off against the waves of commuters. The issue was caused by the fact the go card fare gates are bi-directional instead of uni-directional.[23]

In July 2010 it was reported in major newspapers around Australia that people have had their movements tracked by using the card. It had turned out that Australian police had been accessing the go card records to find out about the movements of certain people.[citation needed] Terry O'Gorman, the president for Australian Council for Civil Liberties had commented that he wasn't surprised that the police were accessing go card records.[24] As of August 2010, Queensland Police were set to appeal to the state’s privacy commissioner not to cut their access to the movements of Brisbane's commuters that were recorded on the go cards.[25]

In August 2011, a Briton faced deportation after he unsuccessfully contested against a fine and was convicted for fare evasion over a malfunctioning go card.[26] An appeal to a higher court against the fine was ultimately unsuccessful, but the Briton was allowed to remain in Australia after the District Court judge overturned the decision to record a conviction for fare evasion.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cubic Signs Contract to Deliver US$95 Million Smart Card-Based Ticketing System and Regional Services to Brisbane, Australia" (Press release). Cubic Corporation. 18 July 2003. 
  2. ^ a b Lucas, Paul (14 July 2006). "1,000 volunteers to test new smart card". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government. 
  3. ^ Beattie, Peter (10 June 2002). "Integrated ticketing to revolutionise public transport". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government. 
  4. ^ Mickel, John (14 July 2006). "1,000 volunteers to test new smart card". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government. 
  5. ^ Bligh, Anna (29 June 2008). "Slashed fares will fight congestion". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government. 
  6. ^ a b "New fare structure". TransLink Transit Authority. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Government. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Daniel Hurst (30 October 2010). "Fares fair: call for Go Card caps dismissed". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "SEEQ Card". TransLink Transit Authority. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Jabour, Bridie (19 March 2012). "LNP would consider CityCycle-Go Card link". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Good news! You can now associate your CityCycle subscription to your TransLink go Card". CityCycle. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Calligeros, Marissa (30 November 2012). "Commuters can use Go Cards on CityCycle from Today". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Annual and Quarterly Reports". TransLink Transit Authority. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "2011-12 Annual Report" (PDF). TransLink Transit Authority. p. 72. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  14. ^ Hurst, Daniel (6 January 2010). "Go Card meltdown: thousands of failures revealed". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Patrick Lions (13 April 2010). "Poor-sighted seniors struggling to use go card screens". The Courier-Mail (Queensland Newspapers). 
  16. ^ Casey, Scott (11 April 2008). "Go cards 'doomed' over security". Brisbane Times. 
  17. ^ Calligeros, Marissa; Conal Hanna (6 January 2010). "Stations to sell Go Cards". Brisbane Times. 
  18. ^ Calligeros, Marissa (4 January 2010). "Ready to pay more for public transport?". Brisbane Times. 
  19. ^ "Council condemns public transport fare increase". Brisbane Times. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "Outrage over Brisbane transport fare hike". Courier-Mail. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Changes to Fares and Ticketing in 2013". Translink Transit Authority. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  22. ^ Atfield, Cameron (11 April 2008). "Go Card fare evasion loophole revealed". Brisbane Times. 
  23. ^ Sean Baugmart (28 July 2010). "Police watching where you Go". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 
  24. ^ Courtney Trnwith (1 August 2010). "Atkinson to ask privacy commissioner not to cut access to Go Cards". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 
  25. ^ Ironside, Robyn (13 August 2011). "British man faces deportation over go card fare evasion conviction on Brisbane Citytrain". Courier Mail. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  26. ^ "Queensland Rail train fare evader ordered to pay $1625 after unsuccessful appeal". Courier Mail (Australian). 16 February 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 

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