I’m pleased to report that the rollout of the Opal electronic ticketing system is now complete – ahead of schedule – and live on all trains, buses, Sydney Ferries and light rail.
There’s no doubt that Opal has revolutionised public transport in NSW, and customers are finally enjoying the convenience of electronic ticketing in the same way people in other cities around Australia and the world have for many years.
We started the first customer trial of Opal on ferries in December 2012 and now just two years later we have rolled the system out to 308 train stations, 5,000 buses, 40 wharves and 23 light rail stops. Notably, all of this has taken place well ahead of the 2015 deadline we set ourselves.
There is no doubt that the Opal system has improved customer service and is making people’s lives easier. As part of the rollout, we’ve issued more than 1.3 million Opal cards, and our seniors and pensioners have shown a willingness to come on board and have so far ordered more than 100,000 Gold Opal cards.
Seniors and pensioners can get their Gold Opal card by phoning Opal Customer Care or ordering their card online. It’s important to remember they can continue to buy and use their paper Pensioner Excursion Tickets if they choose to.
The rollout of the concession card for tertiary students is complex, but the progressive rollout will begin in time for O-Week next year.
With Opal now available on all modes of transport in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter and the Illawarra, customers can travel anywhere on suburban and intercity trains, 5,000 buses, Sydney Ferries and light rail with just one card.
The take-up has exceeded our expectations and people are telling us how much they love using the system. They’re telling us it has transformed the way they catch public transport, particularly because they no longer have to wait in long queues on any given Monday morning to purchase weekly paper tickets.
More than half of all registered Opal customers have set their card to auto top up, like an e-tag, and the remainder are topping up online, over the phone or from more than 1,500 Opal retailers located close to train stations and transport hubs.
Opal is also making travel more attractive and convenient for customers. Commuters are increasingly becoming aware of the rewards that come with using Opal, particularly the fact they can travel free after making eight paid journeys within a week, and the latest data shows us half of all public transport trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, are free.
We have delivered in our first term what Labor couldn’t do in 16 years.
This week marks a huge milestone in the public transport reforms this government is pioneering in NSW and goes to show that, unlike Labor, when we say we will deliver something, people can trust that we will get on with the job and do it.
Published in The Indian Sun, Sydney