Ask LH: Do Student Concessions Work Australia-Wide?

Dear Lifehacker, I am visiting Sydney soon for a university-related event and was wondering if my Victorian student concession card will be valid in Sydney? Do those cards work for discounts in other states? Thanks, Confused By Concessions

Dear CBC,

It depends on the type of discount you're after. Unfortunately, a Victorian student concession card will not cover you for public transport in NSW — you are required to hold a NSW Tertiary Student Concession Card to be eligible for half-fare travel. Holding the equivalent card for another state or territory isn't good enough. This does seem slightly unfair to interstate students who are under the same financial hardships, but them's the breaks.

With that said, an unscrupulous risk taker could probably weasel their way out of a fine if they were that way inclined. NSW has just swapped over to the Opal smart card system which has replaced the bulk of paper tickets. One of the few exceptions is daily and weekly concession fares, which you can still purchase in paper form. We suspect that ticket inspectors will probably be more lenient as commuters get used to the new Opal system.

Meanwhile, you can purchase concession tickets from a machine without citing any proof. Even if you get fined by a hardliner, we reckon you could successfully argue your case in court — just claim that you were confused by Opal. We're not condoning any of this incidentally, we're just speculating on what a dishonest person could do.

When it comes to stuff like concerts and theme parks, the rules usually depend on the proprietor. For instance, Sydney Aquarium will only provide concession tickets to NSW students, while the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will accept any valid full-time Australian student ID. As you'd expect, most proprietors lean towards NSW-only as this translates to more full-priced tickets. If you're on a tight budget, your best bet is to check the relevant venue's website before committing to any plans.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Sydney Trains staff can be pretty damn ruthless when it comes to fining people traveling on concession tickets without the correct NSW Tertiary Student Concession Card/Sticker... are required to hold a NSW Tertiary Student Concession Card to be eligible for half-fare travel.

    Even this isn't good enough for Sydney trains. Since student cards can last 5+ years, you're usually required to get a NSW transport sticker every year, to prove that you are still a current student (as opposed to just a card holder). People routinely get fined for not having the sticker (although I believe it's fairly easy to get overturned).

      I got busted for this last month. Nobody told me that the CityRail stamp has to be replaced each year, so of course I assumed that it expired when the card did. Nope. In fairness, the officer encouraged me to appeal it, because I've had continuous entitlement, but now I get to hold my breath and see whether I'll be smacked down for $200 :(

    They won't give cityrail foils in the ACT anymore unless you can prove NSW residency either. NSW students however get free reign on our public transport.

      CityRail foils haven't been issued in over a year ;-)

        I wouldn't know, I can't get one anymore :p

        What do they do now? Extra student card or something for transport like QLD?

    In QLD you also need an Extra Tertiary Concession card produced by the government as well as your Student ID card.

      Don't QLD have extra requirements too going by contact hour? So full time students without high enough contact hours don't qualify? Or did that not get through govt?

    That's up to the uni's I have 3 subjects at a total of 9-10 contact hours per week and I was fine, you send in a form with your details to the university you are attending and then they approve or decline it and send it back, then you forward it to Translink if all approved then you get sent a TCC (Tertiary Concession Card), to go with your student card and Go Card.

    Even though I had a NSW Concession card, I always had trouble getting the concession from NSW Bus drivers - Particularly Busways Drivers...
    Be Firm, and if they deny you, wait for the next bus driver who isn't a prejudiced prick...

    Given we've switched over to the Australian curriculum to get our schools in line, instead of operating on a state by state basis, one would think that it would filter down and affect this sort of thing, pulling student recognition into an australian wide level. Students are students no matter the state. I faced this issue in 2010 when I went to Sydney and had only apportioned money for transport based on student rates (my fault for not researching properly). I had to skip two days breakfasts of course to ensure I could travel properly but that was no huge problem. However it could be for others. There should be some sort of Australia wide recognition for student status as well as concession status of people on pension cards etc which they ALSO didn't want to recognise for me in Sydney btw (Queenslander here). (Just to clarify, I was a single parent at the time, a full time student on the single parents pension, they left me on that for a month before switching me over to Austudy. This travel for a martial arts tournament fell in that period.)

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