The availability of Opal cards from retailers is imminent, with many retailers already receiving stock and some already selling the cards.
As of August 1st, there are just under 1,000 Opal card retailers across greater Sydney.
The Opal card itself is ‘free’, however you are required to top it up at the same time.
If you are purchasing an Adult card, the amounts available are $10, $20, $40, $60, $80, $100 and $120.
For the Child/Youth card, the options are simply half the adult card (much like the actual fares!); $5, $10, $20, $40, $50 and $60.
These are the same options that are available for any future top ups from an Opal card retailer.
Cards can be paid for in whatever payment method the retailer accepts; you can buy an Opal card for $10 and pay in cash. (in addition to EFTPOS, Credit, or even cheque if you’re lucky.)
The ‘packaging’ itself for an Opal card obtained at retail, is simply a small plastic slip, containing the Opal card itself, and a small Opal card pocket guide.
Currently (as of August 2014), the Opal card can be used on;
- All Sydney Trains services
- All NSW TrainLink Intercity services
- All Sydney Ferries services
- A range of different buses across Greater Sydney, including;
– State Transit buses in Eastern Sydney
– The entire Hillsbus network
– Punchbowl Bus Company buses
– Transit Systems Sydney buses
– Mount Kuring-gai Transdev buses
– and the Blue Mountains Bus company buses from 4th August
By the end of 2014, Opal will be active on all buses across greater Sydney. Light rail is slated for 2015, but we may see this happen sooner.
If you’ve waited to grab an Opal card from a retailer, there’s probably a high chance that you’re an infrequent public transport user, a tourist or a visitor. It wouldn’t make sense to sign up at opal.com.au, to have it delivered to you if you weren’t going to use the required $40 minimum, for example.
For occasional users, previously you may have purchased the $23 MyMulti Day Pass, which allowed for unlimited travel on all buses, ferries, trains and light rail across greater Sydney. With Opal, there’s now a daily cap of $15 (or, an $8 saving!) – and being a cap, there’s no need to plan ahead.
(if you travel more or less than you originally planned, you only pay for what you use)
For Children, this cap is halved at $7.50/day.
If you stayed a little longer and still wanted unlimited travel on all buses, ferries, trains and light rail, it made more sense to buy a weekly MyMulti3, at $63 (or, a little under three MyMulti Day Passes). With Opal, there’s now a $60 weekly cap as well. No matter how much you travel from Monday to Sunday (as per the Opal week), you won’t pay anymore than $60.
Again, with a Child opal card, this is capped at $30/week.
If you haven’t reached the weekly cap, there’s also a $2.50 cap on Sunday for all Opal card users. While this existed previously as the Family Funday Sunday, you were required to have kids. Not so with Opal – but each person will need their own card, and each will pay the $2.50 cap.
The best bit about the cap is that you only pay for what you use.
If you only end up catching the train within the minimum fare band, you’ll only pay for that (in this case, $2.31).
Unfortunately, the Child card has the same $2.50 cap, however the fares remain half that of the Adult card.
Cards purchased from a retailer are unregistered; while you can log in at Opal.com.au with your card number and security code; transactions can take up to an hour or more to show, which may be an issue if you want to keep track of your balance. Without top up vending machines installed yet, your only option is to drop by an Opal retailer, or find a Transport Officer who can tell you what the balance on your card is.
If you want to top up, again there is the $10 minimum.
Registering the card still has it’s benefits; if you travel regularly, you can enable auto topup (so your card is topped up with $40, when your balance drops below $10), the balance is protected if you lose or your card is stolen, and you can see historical travel data.
Officially, TfNSW advises you to wait overnight before registering; this is because the topup from the ePay terminal can take some time to appear online. You can register as soon as you receive the card – but your balance will take some time to appear.
You can speed up this process by using a train or ferry (which will update the balance online within the hour).
Note however, that this has no impact on using the card instantly on a bus, train, ferry or light rail.
For more information on where you can use Opal and the fare structure, please visit http://opal.com.au
For a map of all the Opal card retailers across Sydney, you can visit http://www.retailers.opal.com.au