Public Transport Just Got A Lot More Expensive In NSW

Public Transport Just Got A Lot More Expensive In NSW

Well, we knew it was coming. From today, the free weekend travel bonus for weekly commuters has been quietly scrapped in NSW. Instead, you will now need to pay half-price after completing eight trips. In addition, single trip tickets have also been increased. Transport NSW is calling the fare hike “fairer” — but depending on where you live, you could be worse off by hundreds of dollars a year.

As reported back in May, the Weekly Travel Reward has changed from free travel to half-price fares. Once you have paid for eight trips in one week — between Monday and Sunday — you will receive half-price fares for every subsequent trip in that week.

The price of single trip tickets for train, ferry, light rail and Opal single bus tickets has also been increased. Here’s the damage to your wallet, as outlined on the Transport NSW website:

Weekly Travel Reward

The Weekly Travel Reward has changed from free travel to half-price fares. Once you have paid for eight trips in one week – between Monday and Sunday – you will receive half-price fares for every subsequent trip in that week.

Opal single ticket fares increase

Fares have increased for Opal single trip tickets for train, ferry, light rail and Opal single bus tickets. Opal single trip tickets and single bus tickets are more expensive than using an Opal card. There are no changes to Opal card fares.

We’re naturally sad to see the free transport initiative go. When the scheme was first introduced to coincide with the switch from paper tickets to Opal cards, Transport NSW actively encouraged commuters to take advantage of free trips on the weekend. This prompted a surge in Opal /”travel hacks”, with commuters making short, unnecessary trips to get free travel for the rest of the week — to the tune of a reported $300 million in lost government revenue per year.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Transport NSW has scrapped the hack, but that doesn’t make it an any less bitter of a pill to swallow. On the plus side, travellers who use multiple modes of transport to get to work will now receive a discount. As Transport NSW explains:

The Opal Transfer Discount now applies when you transfer between different modes of public transport – train, ferry, bus and light rail, with the exception of transfers between Sydney Ferries and light rail.   You must tap on for the next leg of your trip within 60 minutes of tapping off from the previous trip to receive the discount. The Opal Transfer Discount is automatically deducted from your fare when you tap off at your destination.  

  • If you travel with an Adult Opal card, you will receive a $2 discount for each transfer.
  • If you travel with any other Opal card, you will receive a $1 discount for each transfer.

  The discount applies to every transfer made in a single journey. For example, if you transfer between bus, train and then by bus again, you’ll make two transfers, which means you’ll save $4 on an Adult Opal card fare.

It’s better than nothing. We guess.

We’re keen to hear what you think about Transport NSW’s “fairer fares for everyone”. Do you plan to grit your teeth and wear the extra cost? Or will the fare changes prompt you to get back into your car for the daily commute? Let us know in the comments.


  • Some people might be better off, particularly those that catch multiple modes of transport, eg a train and a bus. For me, who drives from home to the station and walks from the station to the office, I’m going to be paying an extra $300+ a year with free trips dropped in favour for half price trips. That doesn’t even include weekend travel – that’s just the extra money I’ll be paying on Fridays, that were free for me up until now.

  • I was a person who “took advantage” to make our overpriced system better for me. This will hurt a lot. I got my travel from the mid-Blue Mountains for around $28 a week. I have calculated that I can do it for around $45 on the new system. I moved two hours outside of Sydney to afford a house, I travel to work at 5am and get home at 7pm, missing my kids five days a week to keep a higher paying job, and I tried to help our budget by catching a bus a couple of extra times on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is consistently stated (and reported) that Sydney is too expensive so we all try to find ways to live a little easier and now I have lost one of those ways. What I saved was not going towards holidays or frivolous things, it was literally helping pay the electric bill or cover rates. We have very little spare, pay to pay and now that is even smaller. Thank you, Mike and your team for nothing. If only I was a greyhound!!

    • Overpriced compared to… ? How much would it cost for you to drive to work and operate a vehicle instead of catch public transport? I imagine the transport system would still come in significantly in your advantage even after the price changes.

          • I calculated the same distance from my home to work in Brisbane and in Melbourne and both were cheaper. That is from mid blue mountains to CBD. Not to mention that both locations have cheaper housing so I wouldn’t have been forced so far from work for affordable housing and would have been in the suburbs closer and as such the fare would be even cheaper.

      • Due to unforeseen circumstances I couldn’t drive to work for a 3 month period. During that period I spent $50 more on public transport than what I would if I drove to work and that includes my car loan, maitence and petrol.

        The system is over priced and not to mention how long it takes, what used to be a 45-50 minute trip into work now takes 70-80 minutes and that does not include the constant delays with city rail.

  • I am one of the people who are better off! It used to cost me $2.10 + $3.38 to get from Potts Point to North Sydney (via Town Hall) catching a bus and a train. Sometimes I’d just catch a second bus instead to save money, but traffic through the city and unreliable bus times made that suck, a lot.

    With the travel discount it’ll be $3.48 total, I believe.

    • Same here, $3.48 for me this morning, making my weekly public transport expenses go down from $54 to $34 a week. I will miss the free fridays and weekends being able to travel to the city for free. Guess I’ll just stay home and watch tv or something.

    • Im not surprised that the people who benefit from the changes live in such affluent areas as potts point.

      • It may be an affluent area, but I’m not well off by any stretch of the imagination. Every little bit counts for me, so I’m pretty happy!

        • Lets face it if you were on struggle street you wouldn’t live in potts point, that would just be stupid. Meanwhile the man who had to move to the mountains in the comments above pays much more to subsidise your lifestyle. I don’t think that’s fair at all

          • I live in Potts Point because it’s closer to my two jobs (day job in North Syd, and casual job in Darlinghurst which I can walk to).

            I’m not on struggle street, but nor am I well off. I’m, I guess, “average”. I’m living in a tiny studio and have a budget that tracks every last cent I spend – right down to the $80/week allowed for food and entertainment.

            I don’t benefit from tax cuts for the rich, because I’m not rich. I don’t benefit from assistance to parents because I don’t have kids (can’t afford them!). I don’t benefit from any sort of unemployment schemes because I’m been consistency employed since I was 14.

            It’s nice to have something that I do benefit from, and I’m not going to apologise for being happy about it.

  • I dont mind if the price increased reflects in upgrades and frequency of our transportation.

    In returns, Sydney public transport is a joke, buses never on time, the trains are slow and travelling cost increased every year.

    All the platforms are old and not wheelchair friendly.

    The services getting worst, more breakdowns.. plus Sydney roads traffic is horrible..

    How can they justify to increase the price and not improving the services and quality of transportation?

  • “If you travel with an Adult Opal card, you will receive a $2 discount for each transfer.”

    Any word if this applies in full during the half price fare period, or is the discount also halved?

  • It’s worth doing the math for your personal situation. For me, travel is $30/week with 100% discount after 8 trips, and will be $40/week with 50% discount after 8 trips. Being an Opal runner will cost even more. I suspect the majority of the population will pay 33% or more this week than last week.

    I realize that transport has been struggling for revenue, but this is heavy handed.

  • Completely agree with the multiple modes of transport discount, but I think scrapping the Weekly Travel Reward is ridiculous. I don’t see how there could be that many people in Sydney doing the travel hack to cost $300 million, with the limited locations to pull it off and time it takes. And how much of that apparent lost is regained with the CBD Increment surcharge?

    Why not adjust the Weekly Travel Reward so that instead of only charging you for your first 8 trips in the week, it charges you for your 8 most expensive trips of the week and the rest are free? That will remove the travel hack while still keeping a somewhat fair discount.

    • The weekly travel discount was there originally to emulate the cost savings of a weekly ticket – which typically cost a bit less than four return tickets. The number of people who “abused” this to get large discounts was never a large part of the commuter population, but the practice was hyped up to justify later “refinements.”

      The new system will cost most for those who live farthest from the City, because AFAIK the private buses do not use Opal and so the transfer discounts do not apply for those traveling on private buses, which are more common in the outer west and south-west of the City. These areas are already paying higher fares simply because they are further out.

      The whole “fairness” pitch would be a lot easier to swallow if the simultaneously reduced fares to keep the usual cost of ten trips about the same. As it is, it has about the same level of credibility as the business people who push for eliminating penalty rates without increasing the base wage.

      Most of CityRail’s revenue used to be from weekly tickets; it’s reasonable to surmise that most rail users are still basically using it to commute. As such, with all those people suddenly paying for nine trips rather than eight, this tweak just increased rail revenue by around 12% (minus however the transfer pricing reductions work out).

  • I use to pay public transport $30 a week for travel. Now I’ll be paying them nothing as I’m buying a Motorbike! There’s $1500 a year gone from me.

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