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.