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SmartRider logo
LocationPerth, Western Australia
ManagerPublic Transport Authority
CurrencyAUD ($256 maximum load)
Credit expiryNever
Auto rechargeAutoload

SmartRider is the contactless electronic ticketing system of the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia. The system uses RFID smartcard technology to process public transport fares across public bus, train, and ferry services.[1]

The system is widely used across the Transperth public transport network in metropolitan Perth, as well as regional town bus services in TransAlbany, TransBunbury, TransBusselton, TransEsperance, TransGeraldton, TransHedland, TransGoldfields, TransKarratha, and TransCarnarvon in Western Australian regional centres.[2][3] SmartRider is not used for ticketing on Transwa train and coach services but can be recognized as proof of entitlement to concession fares, including for coach travel on South West Coach Lines.[2][4]

The SmartRider is a credit card-sized smartcard incorporating a microchip and internal aerial, allowing the smartcard to communicate with processors located at Transperth railway stations, on Transperth ferries, and on Transperth and regional town bus services. The microchip enables value to be loaded onto the card, as well as allowing the journey details to be recorded and the appropriate fare deducted from the stored value on the card.

The SmartRider system is designed so that passengers can "tag on" and "tag off" any services whenever they travel through the public transport network. As of 2020–21, 78.9% of all fare-paying boardings were made using a SmartRider.

In 2018, the WA government announced that $34 million was set aside in the state budget to replace and update SmartRider with a newer system.[5] The new system was anticipated to go live in 2021, with the government considering contactless credit card and mobile payments integration.[6]

The 2021-22 State Budget also allocated $15 million to upgrade SmartRider as part of an overall $57.8 million system revamp, which will include the option for commuters to tag on to the network using their mobile phone or credit card – a key McGowan Government 2021 election commitment.

More than 4200 new SmartRider machines and new Ticket Vending Machines will be installed, with the new payment technology now expected to roll out across the network from 2023.[7] This will require existing cards to be swapped with ones incorporating more advanced encryption than the present MIFARE Classic technology.[8][6]

Implementation of the system

A typical SmartRider smart card

In July 2003, a Delairco Bartrol / Wayfarer Transit Systems consortium was named as the preferred bidder to deliver a smartcard ticketing system to Perth.[9]

The implementation of SmartRider was originally planned for January 2005[citation needed], but due to problems with the implementation of reader technology, the key dates changed several times[citation needed]. SmartRiders became available to all members of the public from 14 January 2007.[10]

The SmartRider was rolled out progressively to different groups of customers:[11]

  • Trial users: A small group of passengers traveling through Stirling railway station participated in the initial trial in May 2004.
  • Control group: 2,000 passengers from key user groups were invited to test the system. Initially, the Control Group trial was to last for 4 weeks; however, participants were subsequently asked to continue using their cards until the full rollout (from 16 October 2005).
  • Expanded control group: 5,000 more passengers joined the Control Group to test this system under load (from 23 January 2006).
  • Seniors: New Western Australian Seniors' Cards were issued with integrated SmartRiders in May 2006.[12]
  • Secondary students: Students were issued ID cards with integrated SmartRiders in 2005. Secondary school students began using the system on 16 July 2006.
  • Tertiary students: Tertiary SmartRider became available for University of Western Australia students from 16 July 2006, and all full-time tertiary students from 4 November 2006.
  • Primary students: Students were issued ID cards with integrated SmartRiders in 2005. Primary school students began using the system on 1 October 2006. The 50 cents Student MultiRiders were phased out afterward.
  • TravelEasy subscribers: The members of the TravelEasy online service were able to obtain the SmartRider card from 13 December 2006, before it was made available to the public.
  • General public: SmartRiders were made available to the entire population when the MultiRider system was phased out and subsequently withdrawn from use on 8 April 2007.[10]
  • Car parking: From 22 October to 4 November 2007, new Pay'n'Display machines were trialed at the Stirling Interchange car park so that SmartRider users can pay for their parking with their SmartRider.[13] This facility extended to 13 other stations on the network.[14] From July 2014, SmartRider was made available to pay for parking at all Transperth railway stations when compulsory paid parking was implemented. At the same time, SmartParker was launched, enabling car license plates to be linked to a SmartRider account, removing the requirement to display a parking ticket.[15]
  • TransRegional: SmartRider was introduced on TransRegional bus services starting with TransGeraldton in March 2009, before gradually rolling out to TransBusselton, TransBunbury, TransGoldfields, and TransAlbany. TransKarratha, TransHedland, TransEsperance, and TransCarnarvon were also added to the SmartRider system later.[when?]

For much of the control group testing, Transperth offered full or partial fare refunds to prevent software problems causing overcharging.

Open, closed, and controlled railway stations

SmartRider processor at Perth Station.

Until the SmartRider system was implemented, all Perth railway stations were effectively "open," meaning that a passenger - or indeed, any member of the public - could freely walk into or out of any given train station, or onto a train, without being forced to buy a ticket.

SmartRider implementation has resulted in some stations being gated ("closed") so that one must either validate a SmartRider ticket through a gate to enter or exit the station, or alternatively, show a valid ticket and concession card (if applicable) to a station attendant next to the gate. The officer is also able to assist people with special needs. At all other stations, fare gates have not been installed, and a SmartRider processor has been installed at station entry and exit points.

Bus stations, apart from those that are interchanges with train stations, do not employ the technology as buses each have their own attendant.

Open stations


All Armadale/Thornlie line, Fremantle line, and Midland line other than termini and Bassendean are open. The others are:

SmartRider fare gate at former Joondalup line platform, Perth Station

Closed stations


Controlled stations


At some bus-train interchanges, arriving buses drop passengers off inside the "paid" area of a closed station. These stations have a special arrangement which allows passengers to transfer from a bus to a train and vice versa without going through a fare gate.

Because of this, passengers tagging off a bus at any Controlled Station will automatically be tagged onto the train, and passengers tagging on this bus after getting off the train at a Controlled Station will automatically be tagged off the train before being tagged onto the bus.

The following stations are controlled stations:

Types of SmartRider cards


A range of SmartRider cards exist. When a SmartRider card is first purchased, a card purchase fee of $5 for concession users and $10 for standard users will apply, on top of which credit needs to be added to use the card.

  • Standard SmartRider is for use by passengers without concessions. Standard Transperth adult fares apply.
  • Concession SmartRider is for use by passengers entitled to a concession, such as disability pension recipients, the unemployed and holders of health care cards. Standard Transperth concession fares apply.
  • Seniors SmartRider is for use by passengers over the age of 60, and is part of the Western Australian Seniors Card, which provides reduced-cost access to a range of government services. From 4 April 2009, Seniors SmartRider holders are permitted to free travel during off-peak hours on weekdays and all weekends and public holidays. The concession fare applies during peak hours. The Seniors SmartRider was fully implemented from August 2006.
  • Student SmartRider is for use by primary and secondary school students, and acts as a student identification card as it includes student details such as name, date of birth and student number. Cardholders are entitled to a special student fare during school periods, and standard Transperth concession fares during other periods.
  • Tertiary SmartRider is for use by full-time TAFE and university students, who must, before purchasing, apply for a concession through their institution. The Tertiary SmartRider was fully implemented for university students on 4 November 2006.
  • Pensioners SmartRider is a new SmartRider card that was introduced alongside the weekdays free travel entitlements.

Adding value to a SmartRider card

Several "Did you tag off?" notices displayed at the fence and the ground

Several options exist for adding value to a SmartRider card.[16] The AutoLoad system, which allows Transperth to directly debit from a passenger's bank account, attracts a 20% discount from the normal cash fare per journey (less than the discount applied to 40-trip MultiRiders under the previous system), while all other methods of adding value attract a 10% discount (less than 10-trip MultiRiders).[12] When a SmartRider card is first purchased, a minimum credit of $10 in addition to the card cost must be added. The card has a maximum limit of $256.

In order to successfully tag on, a card must contain a minimum equivalent to a two-section fare for the holder's user category (60c for concession, $1.50 for adult) - the only exception is a Seniors SmartRider holder travelling during a nominated free travel period. If the card cannot be tagged on, a cash fare must be purchased.

SmartRider AVMs at a closed station

Add-value machines (AVMs)


AVMs allow passengers to add value to their SmartRider card by inserting bills/coins into a machine, or by using an EFTPOS or credit card. They are located at the following train and bus stations:

Machines at Transperth InfoCentres, located in the Perth central business district, also offer this feature.

Electronic transfers


AutoLoad allows a user to establish a direct debit authority or provide credit card information to automatically reload the card with a pre-set amount, once the low-value threshold of $6 for standard users and $3 for concession users is reached.

Loading a SmartRider automatically via Autoload is the only way users can achieve similar levels of fare savings in comparison to the previous MultiRider system.[17]

Alternatively, passengers can manually transfer funds from their bank account using BPay, either via phone or internet. It takes 3–5 working days depending on your financial institution and the time of the Bpay transaction. Passengers must have a minimum of a two section fare when they tag on for the funds to transfer onto the card.

On board buses and ferries


A SmartRider tag-on machine is integrated into machines that issue bus and ferry tickets. Passengers can add value to the card by paying the driver.

Retail outlets


Value can be added via EFTPOS or cash at authorised retail outlets such as newsagents.

Technical details


The SmartRider project includes various machines and technologies to manage and control the system including distance travelled, fare deduction, and processing.

The SmartRider card's chip contains information such as the SmartRider number, current balance, concession/Autoload status and, if in the middle of a journey, the location the card was tagged on at. Upon 'tagging', this information is updated on the card by the processor. The processor will also store this information until the end of the day, where it is transmitted back to Transperth. Delayed transaction history is accessible by Transperth staff and the user if their card is linked to Transperth's online service, TravelEasy.

The network also functions by 'pending actions', where each SmartRider processor on the network downloads a list of recent actions Transperth has taken against a list of cards. The processors then wait until they next see that card, upon which data can be modified on them. For example, a hot-listed (or cancelled) card's number will be sent out to all processors (usually within 1–2 days of being reported), and when the card is next used the 'tag on' will be declined and the card updated to cancelled status (resulting in it being rejected in the future).

Physical technology


At the core of the system is the individual cards issued to passengers using the system. The cards are a MIFARE-based card and have a unique individual identification number allocated to each card. These cards communicate specific information as they interact with the relevant processing equipment at the points of boarding and disembarking from the various transport modes that the card operates across (bus, train, ferry).

The Wayfarer SmartTGX150 Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM)[18] incorporates a smartcard processor that allows the driver to sign on and off, issue cash tickets and process SmartRider transactions. Passengers can use the unit to top up their SmartRider cards and the ETM/GPS interface also determines the exact location of a bus at all times and calculates fare zones automatically. The project also includes the Wayfarer SCP smartcard Platform processor for tagging on and off at all 'open' train station platforms, and the SCV, the Wayfarer smartcard bus and ferry validator for tagging on and off buses and ferries.

Information collected by processing equipment is then transmitted back to Transperth by either wired LAN (for fixed processors including standalone units and faregates) or wireless LAN (For buses and other mobile forms of transport). The Wayfarer TGX150 ticket machines also include a removable data cartridge that is used as a backup information store that can be used in the event of a systems or communications failure with the central system.[19]

Some buses have been fitted with new Wayfarer Infigo ticket machines supplied by Parkeon. These have the same technology as the Wayfarer TGX150, but on a more rounded and 'futuristic' interface.

Major train stations are fitted with Wayfarer operated access control gates, which open in response to the card.

Systems platform


The Wayfarer Merit and SmarTrack back office systems provide statistical data and interface to the financial control systems of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Other functions will allow card top up via the Internet and by direct debit systems.





In February 2008, the Dutch government issued a warning about the security of access keys based on the ubiquitous MiFare Classic RFID chip (the same chip used in the SmartRider system) after some students from The University of Virginia demonstrated a theoretical attack which could retrieve the private key from the card within minutes on a standard desktop pc. It has been estimated that the security of the cards will hold up until early 2010 before it becomes a trivial matter to exploit the inherent security vulnerabilities of the RFID based card system.[20]



Users of the system pass their card over a processor both on boarding and departure of any mode of transport using the system. Each SmartRider card is uniquely numbered, and registration is necessary before the card can be used for concession card holders, and is necessary to access many of the advertised features for other users though is not compulsory. The registration process requires filling in a form providing Transperth with the passenger's full name, address, date of birth, SmartRider card number and password.

Usage data is stored both on the card and centrally by Transperth and provides users of the system the capability to check and review recent usage by either visiting a designated Information Kiosk or online via the Transperth website.

The police have the potential to use SmartRider card data as an investigative tool, and use of this feature overseas is dramatically increasing. In London, where the RFID-technology Oyster card is in use, there were 243 police requests made in total as of March 2006.[21][22]



The system has been criticised for usability issues in general system, website and top-up machine design.[citation needed]



Criticism has been directed at the cost to users of the SmartRider system compared to its predecessor, the MultiRider. While the MultiRider could be bought as a 40-ride ticket for a 25% discount, a lesser 20% discount can now only be obtained by paying by direct debit, which can take up to 3 weeks to activate. A 10% discount is available for all other methods of payment.[23] This was raised in Parliament by Liberal MP Katie Hodson-Thomas, who claimed that passengers would end up paying $324 more a year for public transport under SmartRider.[24] In February 2006, The West Australian reported criticism by trial users who claimed that their failure to tag off, either by accidentally forgetting to do so or due to a non-working machine, resulted in a four-zone fare being charged to the SmartRider regardless of distance travelled.[25]

However, Transperth has maintained that the default fare is "equal to the cash fare on the assumed basis that a passenger who has failed to tag off has travelled to the final destination of that particular bus, train or ferry service",[26] and that the four-zone rate only applies to rail travel. During the implementation trial phase, the default fare was charged at the Cash Fare less the customer's discount based on how they last reloaded their card. With the opening of the Mandurah railway line, the default fare for travel on all train services was increased to a seven-zone fare, due to the ability of passengers to transfer trains without tagging off/on.[26]

Further criticism has arisen from the set-up costs of the SmartRider card. For a standard SmartRider, the total cost of set up is $20, and the cost of the card itself is $10.[27]



As of 2020–21, 78.9% of all fare-paying boardings were made using a SmartRider.[28]

See also



  1. ^ "SmartRider: SmartRider is a reusable smart card, which allows easy, hassle-free travel on Transperth services". Transperth. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Regional Services". Transperth. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Carnarvon Fares Guide.pdf" (PDF). Public Transport Authority. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Tickets & Fares". southwestcoachlines.com.au. 15 June 2020. Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  5. ^ Hastie, Hamish (10 May 2018). "WA Budget: winners and losers". WAtoday. Archived from the original on 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b Coyne, Allie (11 September 2017). "WA govt wants smartphone, card payments for SmartRider system". iTnews. NextMedia. Archived from the original on 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Golden ticket to ride with public transport competition launched". Media Statements. Government of Western Australia. 12 September 2021. Archived from the original on 19 October 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  8. ^ Hastie, Hamish (14 May 2018). "Mobile payments on the cards for new SmartRider system". WAtoday. Archived from the original on 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  9. ^ Preferred tenderer for public transport smartcard announced Archived 2 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine Minister for Transport 17 July 2003
  10. ^ a b Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (14 January 2007). "Now we can all get SmartRider (Media Statement)". Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  11. ^ SmartRider rollout dates(accessed 6 August 2007) Archived 30 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b Mason, Graham (27 May 2006). "Pensioners put SmartRider system to test". The West Australian. p. 42.
  13. ^ "SmartRider Pay'n'Display trial at Stirling Station". Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2007.
  14. ^ SmartRider continues to break new ground Archived 22 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Paid parking: Everything you need to know about using Transperth car parks from July 2014". Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Add Value Methods". Transperth. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  17. ^ Zones and time limits Archived 13 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 17 February 2007.
  18. ^ Wayfarer Transit Systems. "The Wayfarer SmartTGX150". Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  19. ^ Wayfarer Transit Systems (3 May 2005). "Perth Smartrider reaches another milestone (Press Release)". Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  20. ^ "Video Detailing the Security Vulnerabilities of MiFare based SmartCard Systems". Archived from the original on 2 August 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "Oyster data use rises in crime clampdown". The Guardian. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  22. ^ "Oyster data is 'new police tool'". BBC News. 13 March 2006. Archived from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  23. ^ Transperth (18 September 2006). "Tickets and fares (Archived as at 18 September 2006)". Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  24. ^ Parliament of Western Australia (26 October 2004). "Legislative Assembly of Western Australia". Hansard. Retrieved 19 January 2007. [dead link]
  25. ^ Kent, Melissa (13 February 2006). "SmartRider fails to live up to name". The West Australian. p. 2.
  26. ^ a b "SmartRider fares and rules, Transperth". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2007.
  27. ^ "Standard SmartRider". transperth.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 15 March 2024.
  28. ^ "Annual Report 2020-21" (PDF). Public Transport Authority. p. 26. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 March 2022. Retrieved 15 October 2021.