Since 2012, paper tickets have been on their way out, after the state invested $1.4 billion into the electronic Opal ticketing system. Nearly five years on, and more than 7.5 million have converted to Opal. Now, the Government has set a deadline for the 1st August when paper tickets will be fully abolished.
Transport for NSW said, “Just 130,000 paper tickets were sold each month at TrainLink stations, which equated to only about 30 a day per station” (SMH, 2016).
There will be no GRACE period from August 1 for passengers caught without a single-trip ticket or Opal card. This is to ensure that people don’t slack off and think they can get away with saying their opal card is coming in the mail. If someone rushes to the station and forgets their Opal Card, they could risk getting a fine of up to $200.
Opal Top up machines will only be available at only 38 of the 197 NSW TrainLink stations.
For those that travel infrequently, there will be a new single-trip Opal ticket made from cardboard available. This is a last resort method for infrequent users, such as tourists. Users of those tickets will pay a 20 per cent premium to fares paid with Opal smartcards.
About 94 train stations on the NSW TrainLink network, “will have no capacity to sell a ticket on site” according to internal documents (SMH, 2016). Staff have not yet been notified what to do if passengers are unable to buy or top up their Opal cards.
Pensioners will suffer most from not being able to buy an Opal card, particularly if they don’t live near an Opal retailer.