All aboard with Opal

OPAL card terminals went live at Bomaderry train station on Friday offering a simpler and cheaper way to buy your next train ticket.

The Opal card is a smartcard at the centre of a new electronic ticketing system.

Instead of buying a paper ticket commuters load value onto their Opal card to pay fares.

When commuters tap the card on a terminal to enter the train station and then tap off at end of their journey, the system will automatically deduct the cost of the fare from the value stored on the card.

Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka launched the Opal card at Bomaderry station on Friday.

He wanted to get the message out that the Opal card offered a $2.50 Sunday cap.

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward said Opal was cheaper than weekly, single and return train tickets, which were the most popular paper tickets customers bought.

“At this stage of the Opal rollout only Opal adult cards are available, but the $2.50 pensioner Opal card and child cards will be released down the track,” he said.

“It is business as usual for pensioners catching public transport, with a $2.50 Opal card coming for seniors and pensioners later in the rollout of electronic ticketing.” 

Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock was also at the Bomaderry launch and welcomed the ahead of schedule arrival of Opal to the South Coast.

“This is months ahead of schedule and just another way this government is delivering improved transport for constituents,” Ms Hancock said. 

“A huge benefit people are raising with me is how Opal will get rid of their Monday morning queue for a ticket. Now they’ll start their Monday mornings with a whole lot less hassle.  

“I encourage locals to register for their free Opal card now and never have to worry about buying a ticket again.”

However, not everyone thought the Opal system was a good thing for commuters.

Labor candidate for Kiama, Glenn Kolomeitz challenged the financial benefit of the card.

“Monthly, quarterly and yearly ticket holders would lose their discount by moving to the Opal card,” he said.

“A local commuter travelling from Kiama to the city with a yearly pass will be $440 a year worse off under Opal. A yearly pass currently costs $2440, whereas it will cost $2880 under Opal – an 18 per cent increase.”

Mrs Hancock said only 5 per cent of commuters in NSW bought an annual ticket and doubted it would be an issue in the Shoalhaven.

Mr Ward said he was happy Mr Kolomeitz made a comment, but said he would prefer if he made an informed comment.

“After your eighth journey every other journey of that week is free,” Mr Ward said.

“Every Sunday travel is only $2.50.”

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