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.