Earlier this year, the government put into action the Opal Card scheme making paper tickets redundant and unable to be sold. The exception to this is the purchase of single adult and concession tickets, regional and country excursion, international student and return tickets.
The Opal System enticed and attracted many with the promised benefits of costing less per week than the average paper ticket and rewards for increasing your travel with NSW transport services.
Specifically, for those who made more than eight journeys in a week, a series of free trips would follow until the commencement of a new week.
However, earlier this week, the Honourable Mr Andrew Constance, NSW Transport Minister has announced that travellers will no longer travel for free after their eight journeys in a week, but instead pay half price for those trips.
The rationale behind this new adoption stems from the argument that approximately 70% of customers are not reaching this reward and those that do are rorting the system, forcing the government into a position of losing money rather than gaining the funds originally considered.
Government opposition have insisted that this new scheme is going to punish the commuters travelling into work five days a week and potentially ‘drive down public transport use’.
However, it should be mentioned that many hardships encountered by the Opal System have centred around the transfer fee when a commuter needs to switch modes of transport, especially if they catch a bus to a train station and then board a train to work. This issue has worsened as a result of the George Street closures in the Sydney CBD.
In an attempt to appease the majority, the new scheme will implement a $2 ‘transfer discount’ against the cost of paying twice. For those coming from areas including the Northern Beaches, this discount could make a significant difference.
However, State Opposition Leader, Mr Luke Foley, has argued that the adoption of these new proposals could lead to weekly fares from areas such as Blacktown or Liverpool into the CBD increasing by at least 48%.
As the majority of us hope to reduce our carbon footprint and travel into work or school without the hassle of parking or traffic, it is crucial that the NSW government does all it can to ensure commuters are benefiting from the amount of money they spend a week on public transport.
Nobody likes being taken for a ride…unless it is free.
If you receive a fine from the State Authority in relation to the misuse of an Opal Card or any issues, please to not hesitate to contact Freedman & Gopalan in order to have your legal concerns addressed or appropriate legal advice sought. Please feel free to call us on 02 8917 8700