'Opal Or Not?' Lets You Compare Sydney Ticket Prices To Opal Fares

NSW's burgeoning "tap-to-pay" public transport card system, dubbed Opal, will be replacing a range of regular train tickets from September. According to Transport For NSW, most customers will be financially better off using Opal, but many commuters remain dubious. To find how much your weekly commute will really cost under the new system, head to the "Opal Or Not?" web app.

Opal is a tap-on/tap-off card system that is looking to streamline public transport in Sydney and wider NSW. It works much like the card systems in other states, with travelers having the option of either purchasing recharge vouchers or authorising automatic top-ups via their credit card. After eight paid journeys in a week, all following journeys become free for the remainder of the week.

If you're a Sydneysider who uses public transport five times a week, Opal is supposed to work out cheaper compared to regular tickets. However, this isn't always the case — one of our co-workers who takes the train from Burwood to Circular Quay discovered he will be approximately $300 worse off each year under Opal.

Opal Or Not? is an independent web app that compares the cost of weekly, monthly and quarterly tickets to their Opal equivalents. Users simply select the relevant travel information from the drop down menu and the app will automatically calculate the cost of both the old and new systems.

For my own commute (Glebrook to Circular Quay), Opal costs exactly $1 less per week than a weekly MyTrain ticket. However, monthly and quarterly tickets represent a vastly better deal than Opal; costing $5.50 and $12.56 less per week, respectively. Unfortunately, both these tickets are among the ones that are being discontinued. Boo.

According to Opal Or Not?, around 66 percent of customers who have used the app have discovered that Opal will be more expensive, costing them an additional $322.32 per year on average. The site does warn that all fare comparisons are "indicative", however.

Head to the Opal Or Not? website find out how much you will or won't be saving under Opal.


Comments

    According to opalornot, Opal will cost me $290.04 extra per year :(
    I'm considering buying a yearly on August 31st ;)

    I switched to Opal when it was available for all stations. Saves me ~20 a week. I previously had to buy a MyMulti2 which was $54 a week. Now I end up paying around $35ish a week with Opal. :)

    My weekly trips span two train lines though over alternate days, so I couldn't figure out how to get the OpalOrNot site to calculate that. :c

    Yep, I'll bet the sales of yearly tickets will skyrocket during the second half of August....

    argh i hate opal!
    Im sick of being held up at the station because of the opal cards.
    A few stations i stop at have the opal swiper thing just outside the train door and it creates a bottlekneck because 500,000 people are trying to scan their card all at once and you cant get off the train.
    Iv been stuck at 3 stations for > 20 minutes because the opal swipers machines stuff up

    even the mention of 'opal' or those pestering sales tools trying to convert me and stalking me

    ARGH!!! OPAL!!! *pulls out more hair*

    $646 extra a year to use Opal. And that's above the cost of a My Multi weekly, not monthly or quarterly... I really hope there is some future thought into not screwing over those with long commutes.

    Almost sounds like QLD with their Go-Card system;

    Cheaper fares on card vs paper (only because they hiked paper ticket prices up) and the removal of Monthly or season tickets, which seems incredibly silly but because you top up a card with a certain balance they have your money in advance anyway.

    Be warned, if they don't do it properly the tap on-off pads are a pain in the ass when they break. Its a regular thing at Milton for a point to be out of action, which means you have to go to the other side of the station to tap-off.

    Essentially, anybody that uses more than 1 mode of transport will lose money. Anybody using only a single mode will probably break even or save a little.

      Bzzt. Anyone who buys a monthly/quarterly or yearly.

      You can use 1 mode of transport and still lose lots.

      I only get the train every day but I'll lose up to $517.69 per year with Opal.

      It's a pretty dick move I think to discontinue the regular tickets. They'll only ever sell day passes after September which is arse.

      Last edited 10/07/14 8:12 pm

        You can buy single and (peak) return tickets, MyBus TravelTen tickets, MyMulti day passes, and MyMulti weekly tickets after September.

        Opal is cheaper than a single paper ticket, a return journey made off peak, weekly train tickets, and day passes.

          Cool story bro, but for someone like myself who just travels during peak times, it just doesn't work out. If you buy a quarterly or monthly ticket and you travel during peak, you're almost definitely going to lose out. A quarterly ticket for me is almost 10 bucks cheaper per week than Opal, or $517.69 cheaper a year.

          The fact that Opal is cheaper than single/return/day tickets, off peak journeys or weekly tickets is of little value to me and many other commuters. It's far more expensive than monthly and quarterly tickets and that's what most of us currently use.

          That also raises another question, why the hell are we being charged more under Opal for travelling during peak times? The current tickets don't care what times you travel, so neither should Opal.

          Also, the fact that you can still only buy day or weekly tickets after September is little concession. That's useless to commuters, and Cityrail and Opal know it.

          Last edited 11/07/14 12:26 pm

            That also raises another question, why the hell are we being charged more under Opal for travelling during peak times? The current tickets don't care what times you travel, so neither should Opal.
            This was actually trialled on paper tickets several years ago. People got confused when their tickets wouldn't work, as they had purchased an off peak ticket and couldn't get out during peak.
            Opal fixes that; you're simply charged the difference.
            The fact that Opal is cheaper than single/return/day tickets, off peak journeys or weekly tickets is of little value to me and many other commuters. It's far more expensive than monthly and quarterly tickets and that's what most of us currently use.

            'Most of us' again = ~5%. The majority of commuters in Sydney are better off. Periodical (monthly, quarterly and yearly) tickets account for ~5% of journeys made and tickets sold.

            See http://i.imgur.com/uxJ7y5y.jpg (source: TransFigures January 2013 - http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/80/trans2012-12-pt_users.pdf.aspx)

            5.6% of journeys (journeys, not tickets issued/purchased. are taken using periodical (monthly (8,607,767), quarterly (5,319,792) and yearly (2,735,115) MyTrain tickets (out of 299,214,247 journeys)
            For MyMulti tickets, only 1.8% of journeys are made using periodical (monthly (1,564,916), quarterly (1,557,638) and yearly (2,173,583) tickets
            (see page 43 - http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/79/r2012-11-rail-compendium.pdf.aspx)

            That's useless to commuters, and Cityrail and Opal know it.
            How can CityRail know it, if they haven't existed for... over a year now ;-)

            Last edited 11/07/14 1:24 pm

              Seriously you are going to use stats from 2012 and 2013 to back up these comments?
              Does that data take into account the removal of some transport services - the change in fees for the ferry from ferry1 to ferry2 for cbd trips.
              I have to make 3 changes minimum for each trip to work during peak hours (i.e. bus bus busy - ferry train bus - ferry ferry bus) this trip is going to be very expensive using the OPAL card.
              I am not surprised that NSW Transport want to remove the wonderful, flexible, (in comparison) monthly travel cards. They get more money and manage to retain a lousy service without any way of us commuters being able to change things.

              I am very surprised, but happy, that the weekly mymulti will remain in supply for the time being. Especially as a large number of buses are not currently enabled with OPAL readers... once again raising the price of a commuters trip and their blood pressure.

              I do NOT believe the figures you've been provided are correct and accurate and contain the full story shall we say.

              NSW Transport are reducing the number of ferries for Inner West travellers constantly and they have made changes to the routes and the costs to make ferry trips less easy to make and more expensive to encourage a drop in clients.

              Example you cannot travel from Balmain Thames Street to Olympic Park/Parramatta anymore directly. You must now travel from Balmain Thames Street to Circular Quay or Darling Harbour and change ferrys (which don't timetable well together) to catch another ferry.

              By the way the online purchasing of mymulti monthly/quarterly and yearly tickets was not user friendly. You could not buy a years worth of monthly tickets or 3 quarterly tickets ahead of time enabling NSW Transport to charge you several times for the admin and postage rather than one charge and get all your tickets together.

              Seriously they should be encouraging more ferry use and a straight forward method of mapping the costs of the different transport types; by which I mean they should use the same costings (the median) routing table to charge commuters. This would enable them to match the costs to a closer degree to those using the mymulti tickets making this a fairer and more popular system.

              However I guess to many people have contacts in the road building companies to want everyone to have access to a simple cost effective easy to use joined up efficient public transport system.

    I just bought a quarterly.

    Can I get part of my money back (pro rata) and then buy a yearly?

      Station staff (try the manager) can do a prorata refund on your periodical ticket so you can buy a yearly.

    Each commute for me involves a bus to the city then a train from Wynyard to Kings Cross. Ouch - this will now cost me over $1,100 per year extra! :-(

    I was happy to continue purchasing a quarterly, but then found out they're stopping them soon...more expensive or not, I have no choice...when I first worked it out, I was 180 per year worse off on opal

    So, in QLD they made the Go Card (same concept) better vague by a) cutting weekly, monthly, and yearly tickets, and b) putting paper ticket prices up 40%. See? Easy.

    Opal? No, pal. Using MyTrain Quarterly instead would save you $9.96 every week, or $517.69 a year.

      Me too! Opal? No, pal. Using MyTrain Quarterly instead would save you $4.62 every week, or $240.36 a year.
      And that's just Town Hall to North Sydney, which is a pretty common trip.

    Fuck's sake cityrail, you keep raising prices on everything and the service still fucking sucks
    Why the hell do you have to order one on the internet and tell them your whole life,
    I don't care about your bullshit 'rewards' and big brother data mining

    Just let me buy one at a station and let me top it up at a ticket machine,
    if I lose it I can just buy a new one on the spot instead of waiting a week,

    I wonder how much they pay people to stand at stations, wear an opal tshirt and smile when handing out brochures, I guess that's why the ticket prices keep going up
    So tech saavy and they don't even have a QR code for people to quickly scan to visit the opal website

    Wouldn't it be easier to just have a stack of opal cards that people can top up themselves in the ticket machine?

    What a bunch of inbred pricks!
    Who do we have to inundate with obscenities before they get a shred of common sense!

      Oh, THIS! I've repeatedly told the "Opal Greeters" who hand out promotional brochures at Town Hall Station that I'll be glad to get one *WHEN I CAN BUY ONE WITHOUT GIVING MY PERSONAL INFORMATION UP AND HAVING TO WAIT FOR IT TO ARRIVE IN THE MAIL*. I'm from America, and the city in which I live has ticket machines which can for some fee ($5 or $10 as I recall) dispense a new card as well as top up existing cards. WITH CASH. This is the way to go. I'm annoyed that I miss out on the $2.50 Sunday travel days (the only thing I'd use Opal for, but yes, I'd definitely use it for that every week), but simply don't want yet another government entity to have more information on my life.

    I'm serious, who do we have to yell at to get this crap changed

    Weirdly, Opal for me sits somewhere between saving me $40 to costing me $380 per year. Either way, it still only works out slightly cheaper than driving to work and paying early bird parking rates in the city, and cuts the travel time at least in half.

    Looks like the Myki pain in Melbourne.
    - delays at stations
    - scanners at doors hold up passengers
    - cost variations
    - timely price rises
    - stupid politicians

    Last edited 10/07/14 9:09 pm

      And it absolutely concretely does not calculate the 'best' fare for you like it claims to. It always charges you the most it possibly can.
      The cost of implementing Myki could have provided FREE public transport in Melbourne for 20 years.

    I visited Singapore recently, and their EZ-Link card system is fantastic, the biggest difference (apart from price) being that it's practically instantaneous when swiping through a ticket gate. Opal's 2-3 second delay is just enough to disrupt your walking pace, back the queue up behind you, hold up the bus you're disembarking from, just generally get in everyone's way and make your commute that tiny bit more frustrating.

    The technology already exists to get this right! the problem's been solved! And we decided to get it wrong instead, because reasons.

    That said, Opal *is* cheaper for everyone who lives or works near a bus route and is willing to take a few minutes out of their day to game the system. As long as the 8-journey weekly cap is in place, just make a few extra 1-stop trips (at least an hour apart from each other and any other journeys, without going over the $15 daily cap), and you can hit the cap earlier for cheaper (<3km bus trip = $2.10, offpeak <10km train trip = $2.31).

    So catch a bus or train for one stop (easy if you work in the city) on your lunch break and walk back to the office, and/or do the same in the evening an hour after you get home, and you can hit the cap on Tuesday/Wednesday, then you have 4-5 days of unlimited travel for no further cost.

      +1 Singapore had their system for YEARS (I was there about 2.5 years ago). The delays at gates are hilarious. Opal is no faster than paper tickets, usually slower because it doesn't scan properly 1/3 of the time.
      Sydney - the place to be *rolls eyes*.

    For my own commute (Glebrook to Circular Quay), Opal costs exactly $1 less per week than a weekly MyTrain ticket. However, monthly and quarterly tickets represent a vastly better deal than Opal; costing $5.50 and $12.56 less per week, respectively. Unfortunately, both these tickets are among the ones that are being discontinued. Boo.

    According to Opal Or Not?, around 66 percent of customers who have used the app have discovered that Opal will be more expensive, costing them an additional $322.32 per year on average. The site does warn that all fare comparisons are “indicative”, however.

    The statistics are hilariously wrong. Put together any trip where Opal 'costs' more, and click 'Compare fares'. Click it again. Counter/statistics increase. Great!

    Also, periodical tickets (monthly, quarterly and yearly) tickets only account for ~5% of tickets sold and journeys made.

    The '66%' of customers that discovered that Opal will be more expensive; are these the actual 5% of customers already using periodical tickets? If not, why not? Is it because people can't afford to fork out large amounts upfront? Or the uncertainty about purchasing a yearly and not using it for several days?

    Do you travel off peak? Can you change your travel patterns? Do you catch buses outside your regular Monday to Friday train journeys, of which you'd usually carry around a TravelTen, but could now be 'free' with Opal after your train journeys?

    Opal could be more expensive if you currently use periodical tickets, or use a (weekly) MyMulti 1 or 2 ticket to combine a bus+train journey.
    Otherwise, the vast majority (over ~90%) of commuters in Sydney will be better off with Opal. Whether that's a few cents or a few dollars.

    Last edited 11/07/14 11:22 am

    I only use public transport now & again so I love Opal. Don't have to line up for a ticket & much faster at the gate plus it's a bit cheaper particularly for long journeys on the weekend.
    Big improvement on the busses too as I never had one of the passes before as I didn't catch them enough & the drivers never had change plus makes getting on much quicker & simpler so the journey is quicker as there is less delay at stops.
    Public transport in NSW has improved massively over the last couple of years, the new timetables are usually more frequent & more accurate & the generally facilities & cleanliness has come along way from where it was 2 years ago.

      It's coming back to the level it was at 20-30 years ago.

    In every other country when they introduce these systems they dramatically drop the price to get people using them. Even after the other tickets have then been phased out the expected price increases still make traveling cheaper than it was previously. Under the current pricing structure Opal will cost me $516 a year more. I may as well drive in to work....

      I get the sense that there is no sense of saving on road infrastructure by encouraging people to move to public transport. All transport issues are in separate silos, considered, costed and funded separately without an overarching vision.

      Oh wait, did I mention vision in the context of NSW state policy? How Pollyannaish.

    Based on my experience it's definitely cheaper, if anything because it seems to vary the fare more based on usage. I've had the same trip change cost between $4.20 (normal) down to $2.87, and even gotten free train trips. Whatever the formula is, that's saving me money.

    I got an Opal card, thinking how cool it would be not to have to buy tickets and so on. I used it for the first time today, logged on to the website, saw how much it cost me for one trip, visited the site and did the math on how the pricing structure will affect me - and hey - it dawned on me that I am being shafted. Actually, no, correct that, seems like most of us are being shafted. I catch a bus to the city, Monday to Thursday, catch a bus in on Friday - and treat myself to a ferry trip home on Friday afternoon. Instead of paying $3.50 for the bus trips and $7 for the ferry, I will be paying $312 MORE per annum because I am not getting the 2 'free' trips on Thursday. Not exactly a fortune - but just leaves a bad taste. Perhaps its worth 'gaming' the system as suggested by @glittalogik above...

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