The true cost of Opals

Have you seen the new Opal ticket gates at Chatswood Station?

opalCommuters travelling on yearly, quarterly and monthly train tickets could be hundreds of dollars worse off a year under the new electronic transport ticketing system.

Unless they are prepared to travel outside the morning peak, that is, when these same commuters could end up paying far less.

The pay-as-you-go Opal card, to be rolled out across the Sydney rail network in stages from June 14, will eventually replace all paper tickets. It will also abolish periodical tickets, which grant commuters a discount for paying monthly, quarterly or yearly fares upfront.

In their place will be Opal’s weekly system, where travel across the network is free after eight journeys in a single week Under the pricing details released on Sunday, this will mean the MyTrain 1 monthly $98 ticket – such as that used between North Sydney and Central – will cost an equivalent Opal fare of $105.

But if this same commuter were to tap on to the Opal system outside 7am to 9am or 4pm to 6.30pm weekdays, the monthly fare would be $74.

Similarly, a $2040 yearly MyTrain 4 ticket for travel between Campbelltown and the city would cost $580 more for peak travel, or about $346 less than the existing discount if all journeys took place during the off-peak.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said MyMulti and periodical tickets comprised only about 4 per cent of tickets sold, and periodicals were limited to travel between two specific stations.

”Whereas Opal customers can travel anywhere, on any mode, as much as they like for free after eight paid journeys in a week – this is a huge benefit,” she said. ”Also, under Opal, customers do not have to outlay hundreds or thousands of dollars upfront for travel they may or may not end up taking.”

Opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said the hidden fare hike was a direct breach of Ms Berejiklian’s promise not to increase fares without a significant improvement in train services.

”These type of tickets are used by frequent commuters that rely on public transport to get to work. They do not have the ability to travel in the off-peak,” she said.

But Professor Corinne Mulley, chair in public transport at the University of Sydney, said: ”You can’t always have only winners.”

The option to create several trips and transfer between transport modes on a single journey ”compensates for a lot,” she said. ”If you look at society as a whole, this sort of change will benefit more people than it will penalise.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald


One thought on “The true cost of Opals

  1. So I’ve got my new Opal card….and it’s fantastic. I’m certainly not feeling ripped off. Judging by the number of other people that I’ve seen traveling from Chatswood with Opal cards, they aren’t feeling ripped off either…

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