The Gautrain may be the closest thing that Joburgers have to a modern public transport system, but the bus and rail network is far from as easy to use (or as cheap) as it should be. One of the biggest challenges is that there’s no way of knowing how much credit you have on your contactless payment card, and – if you want to use the bus network – where you can top-up.

That is all about to change, as Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Dr Ismail Vadi announced on Wednesday that a number of upgrades and changes planned as part of Gauteng’s Integrated Transport Plan are in the works for the Gautrain ticketing system.

One of the features that we are looking forward to the most is the ability to top up your Gold card online. Recently we had to make use of a Gautrain bus, but in order to board you need to have R20 credit. We had no idea how much credit was available, so opted to use Uber instead.

“Once the upgrading has been completed Gautrain passengers with a contactless Gold card will have the choice of topping up their cards online or with a mobile smart phone,” Vadi explained.

The planned changes will be implemented in phases, and are expected to be fully operational by 2017.

And that’s not all. Plans to upgrade card readers so they can accept payments from NFC sources other than Gautrain cards are also afoot.

Vadi said that once the upgrades are done, users will be able to pay for rides with local or international bank issued contactless credit and debit cards – provided that they are compliant with the Europay/MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard. Essentially, tap and pay with your mobile phone or bank card is coming within two years.

“The upgrade will cover the entire Gautrain network, including train stations, buses and parking. With the proposed upgrades most of the recently implemented Bus Rapid Transit ticketing systems in Gauteng will also be accepted by Gautrain services.”

He went on to add that the Gautrain ticketing system will be upgraded to comply with National interoperable ticketing regulations, and that the Gautrain Station platform at OR Tambo International Airport will be extended.

The new technology, systems and payment methods will start with a pilot phase on the East/West link between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton.

“Our goal is to make public transport more accessible, convenient and integrated. Gautrain’s ticketing enhancement will provide momentum towards achieving the objective of “One Province – One Ticket,” Vadi concluded.

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.