Opal is the new electronic ticketing system that is rolled out across the greater Sydney region. So far, the roll out has completed on ferries and trains, with limited availability on selected bus routes. It is scheduled to complete the roll out on buses by the end of the year and on light rail by the following year.
To entice commuters to make the switch, the fares on opal was frozen while the price of normal tickets have increased. There are also a daily cap of $15 for Monday to Saturday, and $2.50 on Sunday which is great news if you don’t have a child and don’t have access to the Sunday Fun Day tickets. Furthermore, after 8 journeys, the rest of the week’s travel is for free.
While there are some informations available on the Opal website regarding how journeys are calculated, below are what I’ve experienced or what I’ve gathered across the net. These were correct at the time of writing.
- Journey is made up of one or more trips where the transfer is within an hour.
- Journey is made up of up to 4 trips on the same type of transport, e.g. catching 4 trains, even within the hour. (Note, people online have said that the 4 trip limit is reset if you travel on different types of transport – e.g. bus then train.
- If you only stay at your destination for less than an hour, then the return trip is free.
- Off-peak is available on Sydney Trains before 7am, between 9am and 4pm, and after 6:30pm. Off-peak is based on the tap on time (from experience tapping on at 7:00am was counted as off-peak)
- Someone mentioned that if you forget to tap off within 5 hours, then you will be charged the default fare, which is the maximum cost for the given type of transport, and to rub salt into the wound, when you forget to tap off, then that journey is not counted towards the 8 journeys to earn weekly travel reward.
While the opal is cheaper than a weekly ticket, similar in cost to the monthly ticket, it is a lot more expensive than a quarterly or a yearly ticket. However, the weekly travel reward means that if you catch a train to and from work each weekday, then effectively your travel from Friday to Sunday is free.
Also, if you can make an extra trip on Monday and Tuesday, then you will be saving more than a quarterly ticket!
So for me, a quarterly ticket costs about $40 a week, compared to about $50 a week on Opal or weekly ticket. However, if you can travel during off peak and add a few trips, potentially you can get the price down to $30! Maybe there will be a lot more people travelling during lunch in the years ahead:P