Coming soon: park and pay with a mere microchip

TOLLWAY giant Transurban is looking to expand its e-tag system to give customers cashless entry into Sydney car parks.
Transurban will roll out an electronic tag toll system in Sydney similar to its Melbourne operation if it succeeds in its $1.26 billion takeover bid for Sydney Roads Group.

The deal would leave Transurban in control of most of Sydney's roads, adding the M1 Eastern Distributor, the M4 and M5 to the M2 and M7 motorways it already operates.

The acquisition would make Transurban the country's dominant toll road operator. It would use this base to deliver thousands of its e-tag customers to other interested partners in Sydney.

The company is starting with cashless parking, but is also exploring the potential for linking up with petrol stations, fast food outlets and supermarkets.

On Friday, Transurban confirmed discussions were taking place with a range of parking station operators in Sydney.

A spokesman said: "We launched cashless parking in August last year at Federation Square, in Melbourne. It's early days, but we are looking at opportunities to roll this out elsewhere."

Cashless payments for goods and services using e-tag accounts began in Melbourne last August. Starting at Federation Square, motorists use a "Smartdisc" to get in and out of the car park without going to the pay station.

The scheme, CityLink PLUS, is expected to be extended to Melbourne airport and Telstra Dome car parks this year. CityLink's Smartdisc is an adhesive microchip slightly bigger than a five cent coin, which can be stuck to something such as a mobile phone.

Payments won't be deducted directly from an e-tag account, but from the account holder's credit card.

There would be no additional fees for using CityLink PLUS.

A spokesman said the focus is on car parks first, particularly for Sydney.

Wilson Parking chief executive Craig Smith said his company was holding talks about a cashless parking system partnership. However, he declined to name the other parties attending these discussions.

"At this stage the cost of the system appears to be prohibitive but this may change in coming years," said Mr Smith, whose company operates 22 parking stations in Sydney.
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