Location Perth, Western Australia
Launched 2007
Operator Transperth
Manager Public Transport Authority
Currency AUD ($256 maximum load)
Credit expiry Never
Auto recharge Autoload
  • Transperth InfoCentre
  • Authorised Newsagents
A typical SmartRider smart card

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 used widely across the Transperth public transport network in metropolitan Perth, as well as the regional town bus services TransAlbany, TransBunbury, TransBusselton, TransGeraldton, TransHedland and TransGoldfields in Western Australian regional centres.[2] Smartrider is not used for ticketing on Transwa train and coach services or on Canarvon or Port Hedland town bus services, but can be recognised as proof of entitlement to concession fares.[2]

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.

Implementation of the system

The implementation of SmartRider was originally planned for January 2005, but due to problems with implementation of reader technology, the key dates changed a number of times. SmartRiders became available to members of the public from 14 January 2007.[3]

The SmartRider was rolled out progressively to different groups of customers:[4]

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 $5.00 for concession users and $10.00 for standard users will apply, on top of which credit needs to be added to use the card.

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. The AutoLoad system, which allows Transperth to directly debit from a passenger's bank account, attracts a 25% discount from the normal cash fare per journey (comparable to the discount applied to 40-trip MultiRiders under the previous system), while all other methods of adding value attract a 15% discount (comparable to 10-trip MultiRiders).[5] When a SmartRider card is first purchased, a minimum credit of $10.00 in addition to the card cost must be added. The card has a maximum limit of $256.00.

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.

Adding value to your SmartRider card
Minimum and maximum add value amounts by service outlet type
Add-value method Minimum add value amount Maximum add value amount
AutoLoad and BPAY $20 $250
On board $10 ($5 for concession) $50
Add-Value Machines (AVMs) $10 ($5 for concession) $250
All other methods $10 $250
SmartRider AVMs at a closed station

Add-Value Machines (AVMs)

AVMs allow passengers to add value to their SmartRider card by inserting notes or 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 Perth's CBD, 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.[9]

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 2 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 which 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)[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]


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.[13][14]


The system has been criticised for usability issues in general system, website and top-up machine design. The most significant usability issue is that customers who for whatever reason do not "tag off" at the end of their journeys will be charged a default fare - being charged "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".[15] Users who have run up a debt of as little as $4 are prohibited from using the card until the debt is repaid.


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, this discount can now only be obtained by paying by direct debit, which can take up to 3 weeks to activate. A 15% discount is available for all other methods of payment.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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",[15] 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.[15]

Further criticism has arisen from the set-up costs of the SmartRider card. The total cost of set up is $20 and the cost of the card itself is $10. Although Transperth claim this is to cover the cost of a passenger travelling four zones on a lesser-zone fare, this is contradicted by the inability to travel without a minimum fare on the card.

See also


  1. "SmartRider: SmartRider is a reusable smart card, which allows easy, hassle free travel on Transperth services.". Transperth. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Regional Services: All about services beyond the Perth Metropolitan area.". Transperth. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (14 January 2007). "Now we can all get SmartRider (Media Statement)". Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  4. SmartRider rollout dates (accessed 6 August 2007)
  5. 1 2 Mason, Graham (27 May 2006). "Pensioners put SmartRider system to test". The West Australian. p. 42.
  6. SmartRider Pay'n'Display trial at Stirling Station
  7. SmartRider continues to break new ground
  8. "Paid parking: Everything you need to know about using Transperth car parks from July 2014.". Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  9. Zones and time limits Retrieved 17 February 2007.
  10. Wayfarer Transit Systems. "The Wayfarer SmartTGX150". Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  11. Wayfarer Transit Systems (3 May 2005). "Perth Smartrider reaches another milestone (Press Release)". Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  12. Video Detailing the Security Vulnerabilities of MiFare based SmartCard Systems
  13. "Oyster data use rises in crime clampdown". The Guardian. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  14. "Oyster data is 'new police tool'". BBC News Online. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  15. 1 2 3 SmartRider fares and rules, Transperth
  16. Transperth (18 September 2006). "Tickets and fares (Archived as at 18 September 2006)". Archived from the original on 2006-09-18. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  17. Parliament of Western Australia (26 October 2004). "Legislative Assembly of Western Australia". Hansard. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  18. Kent, Melissa (13 February 2006). "SmartRider fails to live up to name". The West Australian. p. 2.
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