In an effort to save $150 million worth of lost revenue, the NSW government have confirmed they will be axing the Opal free-travel perk enjoyed by Sydney commuters.
Currently, the system rewards users with free travel after eight trips in the week. From September, this will no longer be available, however, the government has attempted to sweeten the deal by granting concessions to those who use multiple means of transport.
Those who change between bus, ferry or train during their commute will enjoy a $2 deduction on any fair after their first for that day.
It’s a ballsy play that regulators have warned could cost daily commuters 20 per cent more on their weekly travel expenses.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance chose to focus on the positives.
“Today is a monumental shift towards making interchange cheaper on public transport, and making the entire system fairer.”
Monumental? Settle down mate.
“We want to greater integration on the transport network as we invest billions in the metro, light rail, new rapid bus lines and modern trains and ferries,” he continued.
The unfortunate changes were recommended by an IPART report released earlier in May. Transport spokeswoman for The Greens, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, says that the proposed sweetener doesn’t cut it.
“The free travel rule is incredibly popular with public transport users and encourages people to use the system, especially on weekends. A 50 per cent discount is not good enough. The NSW Government should be prioritising transport equity and affordability.”
The NSW Government closed off another loophole in March that allowed passengers to tap on and off across short distances to clock up their eight trips at a cheaper rate. This was coined as “Opal running”, presumably by someone with little imagination.
Once again, Sydneysiders are given a swift kick to the wallet in favour of government revenues. At least those who catch multiple rides everyday have something to cheer about.