Opal smart cards have been introduced following the complete phase out of railway paper tickets on the 1st of August. However, in the next couple of months will there be another payment option available as well?
The Opal card was based on London’s Oyster and introduced due to fare evasion and misuse costing taxpayers $22 million AUD a year. NSW Government looks set to follow in London’s footsteps once more. According to news.com, Sydney will trial the use of bank cards to pay for trips in 2017. This means that customers will be able to travel using their credit or debit cards while the use of personal bank accounts reduces the need to top up regularly.
For the moment, railway customers must buy an Opal card or Opal single-trip in order to travel throughout Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Additionally, customers will not be able to continue using Pensioner Excursion Tickets or TravelTens from August 1st. They can, however, apply for a refund for unused trips before 30th October 2016 here. Tourists can also apply for an Opal card before arrival to NSW, or use the new single-trip tickets.
If you still have not used for an Opal card, using a single-trip Opal card may serve as a last resort. These can be bought on buses, and standard Opal cards can be purchased from 7-Eleven, Woolworths or online. However, some stations have not yet been installed with single-use Opal cards. If you are caught without a valid ticket, transport officers will be able to fine you.
Other changes include the removal of free journeys after 8 trips. Now, customers will only receive a 50% discount if they take more than 8 journeys. Those who change transportation twice – a train to a bus, for example – in one trip (and within one hour) will also receive a $2 discount instead of needing to pay twice.
Due to the success in London 2014, the bank card system was exported to other cities. However, the technology will not reach regions outside of Sydney for some time. Melbourne, Brisbane and other cities will need to remain with smartcards due to their older technologies.
Even though the potential use of bank cards is an Australian first, Londoners are already using their smartphones to pay fares instead of bank cards. Will Sydney do the same in the next few years?
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