TfNSW: Opal runners tapped out for a fairer system →

Yesterday the government announced changes to the way that Opal card trips and journeys are calculated in order to crack down on ‘Opal runners’.

Transport for NSW Media Release, March 21 2016

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance today announced the Opal ticketing system has been updated to stop the practice of ‘Opal running’, closing a loophole that potentially costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

Currently, some people are running, cycling, driving or even roller-skating between train stations or light rail stops to tap on and off, earning free travel for the week after only paying around $18.00.

“It’s unfair that customers doing the right thing and paying to actually use transport are being cheated by people who are using their own or other people’s cards to artificially inflate their journeys. Some are even using the practice as a business model to earn money,” Mr Constance said.

Below is a sample snapshot of typical short trips taken between light rail stops and train stations to artificially reach the Opal reward of free trips, during February 1 and March 6, 2016. The table demonstrates the prevalence on Mondays and Tuesday of Opal running.


Pyrmont Bay to The Star stops & back (300m apart)63,6368,1981,469313149110481
Paddy’s Markets to Capitol Square stops & back (280m apart)30,2859,4082,434647238193714
Macdonaldtown to Erskineville stations & back (470m apart)6,4651,142178511466


The Opal system currently allows people to walk, run or cycle between stations that are close together, like Macdonaldtown and Erskineville, and accumulate free travel rewards in approximately an hour and a half – without even catching a train or tram. The changes implemented today mean the same process could take at least five hours.

“From today, the system will be updated to substantially disrupt those people who are improperly earning free travel, by raising the number of transfers needed to make a journey,” Mr Constance said.

“My message is that the changes are in operation as of now – so ‘Opal runners’ don’t have to bother. It’s not worth running out of steam.

“The system changes do not affect other customers because they are not the ones attempting to quickly get charged for more journeys, especially when transferring between light rail stops or train stations while travelling on the same journey.

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Reddit: Opal and discontiguous train journeys →

The idea is to increase the number of journeys on your Opal card as close to the max as possible in a short time. This can save a lot of money if you have a longer commute, want to use a lot of ferries, etc.

  • Take a train to Ersko or Mac’town, tap off as normal
  • Walk to the other station, tap on
  • Walk back, tap off
  • Repeat until you have enough journeys!
  • My return journeys took about 10 minutes each as you can see in my history, but this could be a lot faster with a bicycle.


  • You can’t do this in the City, as transfers between city stations don’t count as a new journey
  • You can’t ride the train when tapped off, hence why you must walk between stations (which is a lot faster in this case anyway) . If you wanted to do something similar actually riding the trains, it would take two cards.
  • You have to stop once the daily cap of $15 is reached, which means you can only get 7 journeys this way in a single go.
  • The above stations are picked since they are close to each other and have Opal readers (without barriers) near the footpath.

It might be a good business opportunity for a student or bicycle courier – collect people’s Opal cards on Monday, rack up the journeys and return the cards for a small fee. You could tap on multiple cards at once I suppose. I’m not sure how many times you could do this before the station staff might notice and start asking questions 🙂

(via SilverStar9192 on Reddit)

SMH: Transport Minister backs commuters who beat the Opal man →

The Transport Minister has backed commuters who manipulate their travel to get the best deal out of their Opal card, potentially saving them, and costing the government, hundreds of dollars a year.

Under the Opal fare structure, travel is free after the card-holder has made eight trips in a week.

This has created an incentive for people to take cheap – and potentially useless – trips early in the week to make significant savings later on.

“I want people to beat the system,” Gladys Berejiklian said. “I want people to find the savings because they are there to be had,” she said.

I thought this was already pretty obvious from the Fares & benefits page

By understanding Opal’s fare structure, and what it means for your journey, you can work out ways to save even more.