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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Making public transport easier to use

Smartrider processor

Credit: Courtesy Public Transport Authority

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A useful tactic when giving public transport a go is to see if your local service offers pre-paid cards. Let me tell you, having one of these in your purse or wallet is so handy! You never have to think about what change you've got before you decide to use public transport. No mess, no fuss.

I like the system we've got here in Perth, of pre-paid swipe cards. I think Brisbane has a similar service. I got involved during the trial stage, when there were a few hiccups, but since it's been officially installed, it's worked really well for me.

When I bought the card, I pre-paid for $70 worth of public transport rides. Each time I hop on a bus or enter a train station, I swipe my card to let it know I'm starting a journey. When I leave the bus or train station, I swipe again. It works out how far I've travelled and deducts the cost from my tally. When my pre-paid dollars get down to just $10, I've set it up to recharge itself with another $70 from my bank account. You can see how it works at the Transperth website.

This way I never have to worry about being able to pay for a ride. And as this Lifehacker article points out, it also improves personal security and the speed of getting on the train, because you can just swipe your whole wallet instead of opening it up to fiddle around finding change.

Other things that can make your public transport journey easier are the mobile websites and applications that are meant to be used on smartphones. This way you can look up the nearest bus-stop wherever you are, and see how long it is until the next service arrives. I use one called iTT Perth for my iPhone, and believe there's one in the works for Sydney as well.

Does your public transport service offer pre-paid cards that you can use? What other modern setups would make public transport easier for all of us?