- Looks cool but there's no real incentive for me to use it.
Transport for NSW's Opal Card is currently being installed across the Sydney Transport network. I though, will resist it's use at every single opportunity.
Customers using the Opal card will tap on at a card reader at the start of their trip and tap off at the end. The electronic ticketing system will automatically calculate the fare and deduct it from the value stored on your Opal card.
- Transport for NSW website, retrieved 6th Feb 2014.¹
Currently when I use my MyMulti3 ticket, I use it to get on the train at one station, get off the train at Town Hall and change for an M30 bus. In the afternoon coming home, sometimes I will use any of a multitude of buses which crawl down Military Rd, change for a train to either Blacktown or Marayong and/or take another bus from Marayong.
The first problem is that Blacktown Station in particular has platforms 1&2 physically separated from platforms 3-7. Does changing trains constitute a break in journey? It certainly would not if you happened to change trains at any other station provided you didn't pass the barriers; yet at Blacktown, you're forced to.
The second problem that I have is that with a MyMulti3 ticket, I currently pay $63. This entitles me to use any particular mode of transport I like. I have several options to get both home and to work and can even use it on the weekends. Also, I frequently 'abuse' the system by taking short bus trips either from my office to the bank and or to Neutral Bay at lunchtime because those journeys are effectively free.
With Opal card though, I would have two fares deducted to get to and from work, those other journeys would also count and be deducted. On top of that, Opal card would not actually commute my fare.
Under Opal card, the trip is counted as two single train and two single bus journeys.
$6.80 - T1 Train - Marayong to Town Hall
$4.60 - M30 Bus - Town Hall to Mosman
$4.60 - M30 Bus - Mosman to Town Hall
$6.80 - T1 Train - Wynyard to Marayong
Total per day: $22.80
Total per week: $114.00
Under Opal card, my weekly commute increases a whopping 81%. I checked the Opal Car website and it and it tells me that:
How do I load my weekly train or MyMulti ticket onto my Opal card?
You don’t. By using the value on your Opal card, you can take advantage of the Weekly Travel Reward. This means you can travel for free after 8 paid journeys in a week, and this will be cheaper than a MyTrain Weekly ticket.
- Opal Card website, retrieved 6th Feb 2014.²
What constitues 8 paid journeys? Do buses count? I'll reach 8 paid journeys in some cases within two days. And if MyMulti ceases to exist then the claim that "this will be cheaper than a MyTrain Weekly ticket" is completely false.
The Transport for NSW website is not a whole heap more helpful:
The Opal card is introducing a new era of convenience and provides the following fare incentives:
A reward providing free travel after eight paid journeys in a week*
A $2.50 daily cap on Sunday
A daily cap of $15.00 from Monday to Saturday
* The Opal week runs from Monday to Sunday for the purpose of fare calculation
- Transport for NSW website, retrieved 6th Feb 2014.³
Assuming that there is a daily cap of $15, then for 5 days, I'd still be paying $75 instead of $63 but that's still a 19% fare increase.
Opal Card could very well be the best system in the world but the truth is that an effective fare increase is not something I enjoy. For people who have to make interchanges, like myself, Opal Card actually incentivises travel by car. If the break even point increases from $63 to $75 per week, then it actually becomes significantly cheaper to drive than to take public transport.
As far as I'm concerned though, for me to use Opal Card would be an actual waste of money and I promise to refuse to use it. I only hope that the Minister is listening.