It's been an exceedingly long time coming, but selected Sydney's train systems will have a tap-on card system, dubbed Opal, from 14 June, with the rest of the train network to be phased in by the end of next year.
Opal has been on trial on Sydney's ferries for the last half-year, but from mid-month they'll also be an option for users of the City Circle and Eastern Suburbs Bondi Junction route while any last minute quirks are ironed out. The SMH reports that state transport minister Gladys Berejiklian explains that "We expect there may be some hiccups along the way", which is why they've opted to go for a staggered rollout.
You can order an Opal card online, or over the phone, with full details on Cityrail's site for the cards. It's a full tap-on/tap-off system with the option of either automatic top-ups below a certain balance or by purchasing recharge vouchers.
Observationally, Opal card readers appear to have been spreading like wildfire across Sydney's many rail stations, so it'll be interesting to see how quickly Opal can get up and running — and if it hits the kinds of problems that users of Melbourne's Myki service often complain about. For those keen on buses, it's worth noting that they're scheduled to be the last phase of Opal rollout in the greater Sydney region.
As an incentive to use the Opal card, fares will be slightly lower, capped at $2.50 on Sundays (which means it's identical to the current Family Funday Sunday deal, while Monday-Saturday travel will be capped at maximum of $15/day. After eight paid journeys in a week, all journeys after that are free to customers. As with other tap on/tap off systems, if you don't tap off (or it's not registered) the largest applicable fee will be charged.