Transport for NSW: Town Hall and Central stations refresh →

(seems the previous dedicated Central Station refresh update from a few weeks before has disappeared, and replaced with the below;), Monday 25th May

Town Hall and Central stations are currently undergoing a refresh with new tiling and glazing, fresh paint and other upgrades taking place around the concourse level.

The refresh work will take place overnight and during weekend trackwork over the coming months to avoid busy peak periods and reduce impact on customers.

The work is expected to be completed by mid-2015, with the modernised and  streamlined look to be more appealing and user-friendly for customers.

Work areas may have a temporary impact on station access and facilities, so please see station staff if you need assistance.

We appreciate your patience and understanding while this important work is completed.

Transport for NSW statement on Opal →

Transport for NSW, 23rd May 2015

A media report today claiming that there is a $20 million revenue shortfall on State Transit buses because of Opal is completely false and misleading.

Over the last 12 months, revenue for STA buses has met expectations, with numbers comparable to recent years.

The claim published today uses incomparable data to make assertions which are consequently false and misleading.

Transport for NSW has always structured Opal fares and benefits such as free trips into its revenue projections. These reward free trips are an incentive to use public transport more, and this is proven by the increased use of public transport on weekends and on trains in the CBD.

The claim that earlier this month transport authorities were forced to install new software to fix Opal is false and misleading. Software upgrades are normal and standard activities on every electronic system.

Daily Telegraph: Taxpayers tapped out in $20m Opal card glitch →

EDIT: Transport for NSW has issued a Media Release in response here

Richard Noone & Jim O’Rourke, The Daily Telegraph, 23rd May 2015

Opal Card ticket machine malfunctions are costing the state government tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Passengers and drivers on State Transit Authority buses have been complaining for months about the “tap on, tap off” travel smartcard machines breaking down on a daily basis.

Drivers on the fleet’s 5000 buses say faulty card readers are letting passengers travel free on “entire bus runs’’.

Tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue have been racked up, a shortfall to be ultimately footed by taxpayers.

Exclusive data obtained by The Saturday Telegraph reveals fare box revenue in the 12 months since the Opal card rollout is just $330.2 million.

That is $20 million less than the four-year average of $350.25 million identified by an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal review from 2008-09 to 2011-12. Continue reading

SMH: Opal card data surrendered to police and immigration authorities →

Kelsey Munro, Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd May 2015

Transport for NSW has provided police and immigration authorities with access to the personal information of dozens of Opal card users suspected of criminal offences.

Registered Opal cards, which are linked with users’ names, addresses, email and phone contacts and bank accounts, provide the authorities with the ability to track a users’ journeys across the public transport network by time and date.

The first figures on information disclosures to be released by Transport for NSW indicate there have been 166 Law Enforcement Requests from NSW Police, and 15 from the Department of Immigration, since the full rollout of the Opal system in December 2014. Personal information was disclosed on 57 of these requests: 19 for proceedings of an offence, 6 missing persons and 32 on reasonable grounds of an offence, according to a department spokesman. Continue reading

Daily Telegraph: Opal is a nice little earner for operator →

ALICIA WOOD, The Daily Telegraph, 20th May 2015

Millions of Opal card users are un­wit­tingly con­tribut­ing to a $10 mil­lion state gov­ern­ment fund, with the money sit­ting in their au­to­matic “top-up’’ ac­counts ac­cru­ing in­ter­est for gov­ern­ment cof­fers.

Opal card users who choose to au­to­mat­i­cally “top up” their cards are charged as soon as their bal­ance reaches $10 — and with at least half of the state’s two mil­lion users choos­ing the “auto top-up” sys­tem — the gov­ern­ment is hold­ing on to more than $10 mil­lion, on which it earned $176,000 in­ter­est in the last fi­nan­cial year.

Op­po­si­tion trans­port spokesman Ryan Park said there was no rea­son com­muters should be barred from us­ing all the funds on their card: “Not only is the gov­ern­ment pock­et­ing the funds, they are mak­ing in­ter­est off money that isn’t theirs, it is ab­so­lutely out­ra­geous. Opal card users who have ac­ti­vated the ‘auto top up’ op­tion are es­sen­tially be­ing charged a hid­den $10 fee for the priv­i­lege of catch­ing their train, bus or ferry.”

A Trans­port for NSW spokesman said the $10 amount was cho­sen be­cause it cov­ers the max­i­mum sin­gle adult train fare of $8.30 to the Cen­tral Coast, Illawarra and Blue Moun­tains.

The spokesman said any in­ter­est earned on the held funds would pay for the op­er­a­tion of the Opal card sys­tem.

“When a cus­tomer tops up their Opal card, whether by auto top up or other means, the funds are se­curely held by the Com­mon­wealth Bank who are part of the con­sor­tium work­ing with TfNSW to de­liver Opal,” the spokesman said.

“Any in­ter­est earned on the funds is used to con­trib­ute to the costs of op­er­at­ing Opal.’

Transport for NSW: Central Station – new Transport Customer Service Centre →, Monday 18th Maycentral-refresh-2

An upgrade is currently underway to transform the current information kiosk in the Grand Concourse at Central Station into a more dynamic, efficient and customer accessible area – the Transport Customer Service Centre.

This new centre will offer:

  • Trip planning assistance and information across all transport modes (train, bus, ferry and light rail)
  • Opal card acquisition and top-ups
  • Assisted journey, event, travel and tourist information
  • A range of Transport merchandise

Additional improvements

Other improvements will be made to Central Grand Concourse, these include:

  • Installation of new Opal-only ticket gates
  • 11 x 5 m customer information screen situated above the new Transport Customer Service Centre
  • Installation of new Information Hubs allowing Sydney Trains’ staff to provide  visible, proactive advice to customers
  • New window glazing across the station
  • Bird proofing of platforms 1-16 and Grand Concourse

The planned completion and opening date of the new customer service centre is late June 2015.