blog If you live in Sydney, at this point, it’s become rather hard to believe that the State Government will ever be successful in bringing the city’s public transport ticketing system up to a modern standard. It’s still paper cards dipped into a machine here, despite the fact that cities such as Hong Kong, London, and heck, even Melbourne, have had smartcards for public transport for yonks. However, the new Coalition Government over the weekend shone a ray of light into the situation, with the new Opal smartcard being launched on Sydney ferries, to start with. Perhaps the ghost of Tcard is finally being banished, some 13 years after it was was originally slated to be introduced. I’m not holding my breath just yet, however. The full media release from this weekend:
“Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today introduced public transport customers to the Opal card and the new electronic ticketing system that will transform the way they move around.
Ms Berejiklian said the Opal card would launch with a customer trial from 7 December on the Neutral Bay ferry route. It would then be rolled out across greater Sydney for all Sydney Ferries, train, bus and light rail customers through to 2015.
“London has the Oyster, Hong Kong the Octopus and from next month Sydney will have the Opal card,” Ms Berejiklian said. “The Opal card will transform the way people get around, making public transport more convenient and seeing the end of ticket queues and fumbling for coins.
“Bringing electronic ticketing to Sydney has been a long time coming – the former Labor Government promised it for the Sydney 2000 Olympics – but the Liberals & Nationals Government has been working hard behind the scenes to get to this point. While the Opal card will eventually transform the way we move around, the roll out is complex and we are taking our time – we have learned from overseas that progressive roll outs work best and we expect there may be some hiccups along the way.”
Public transport customers using the Opal card will ‘tap on’ at the start of their trip on each mode and ‘tap off’ at the end, with the Opal card working much like an e-tag. The Opal card is expected to be available for all Sydney Ferries’ customers, at more than 40 wharves from Parramatta to Manly, by the end of next year, with the roll out to trains starting on the City Circle in the second half of 2013.
Ongoing fares for the Opal card will be detailed next year following the ferry trial, but Ms Berejiklian announced three key incentives will be in place to encourage uptake of the Opal card and greater public transport use. These incentives are available for Opal card customers as the electronic ticketing system is progressively rolled out across ferries, trains, buses and light rail.
The incentives include: A weekly reward providing free travel after eight paid journeys in a week – for example a customer using their Opal card paying for two journeys a day to and from work from Monday to Thursday will be eligible for unlimited free travel on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; A $2.50 daily cap on Sundays for Opal card customers– travel all you want and it will cost no more than $2.50 per-person; A daily travel cap of $15 from Monday to Saturday – helping tourists and one-off users travel affordably using an Opal card.
There is no change to paper tickets or other fare products at this time. Come 2015, 42 ferry wharves, more than 300 train stations and more than 5,000 buses and light rail will have Opal equipment operating in Sydney, the Hunter, Central Coast, the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains.”
Image credit: NSW Government