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.

 

Journey MON TUES WED THUR FRI SAT SUN
Pyrmont Bay to The Star stops & back (300m apart) 63,636 8,198 1,469 313 149 110 481
Paddy’s Markets to Capitol Square stops & back (280m apart) 30,285 9,408 2,434 647 238 193 714
Macdonaldtown to Erskineville stations & back (470m apart) 6,465 1,142 178 51 14 6 6

 

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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TfNSW: School Students to tap onto Opal next year →

More than 420,000 school students will be provided with an Opal card at the start of the 2016 school year so they can travel for free between home and school while accessing the ease and simplicity of the Opal electronic ticketing system.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance and Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli announced today that parents and students will be able to apply for a School Opal card and get information about the card from next week.

“More than 4 million Opal cards are already in use and now we’re expanding Opal to give school students the same kind of convenience from the start of the 2016 school year,” Mr Constance said.

TfNSW: Don’t miss the bus – timetables and trip planning available now for CBD bus changes →

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance and CBD Coordinator General Marg Prendergast today urged Sydney bus customers to start planning their new journeys, with timetables now available for the redesigned CBD bus network that begins operating on Sunday, 4 October.

Complete with sneak peek at the new bus stop designs;

new-bus-stop-design1 new-bus-stop-design2

TfNSW: Time to tap into Opal – majority of paper tickets to be phased out →

The retirement of paper tickets continues, with pretty much every paper ticket being withdrawn from sale as of next year.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said: “Given the enormous success of Opal, it’s time to stop running two ticketing systems.

“Opal is one of the great improvements to our public transport network, and it’s the right time we take the next logical step to one convenient system,” Mr Constance said.
From January 1, 57 paper ticket products will no longer be sold. Customers should start preparing now to upgrade to Opal, so getting around is simpler and cheaper.

The next stage of Opal means customers will only be able to purchase adult and concession single or return tickets for trains, ferries, light rail plus singles for buses.

To give customers more of a prod, opal.com.au has a pretty good summary of how ‘unpopular’ paper tickets are becoming;

We know that customers love their Opal cards. There are now more than 3,300,000 cards issued and the number grows steadily every week.

At the same time, there has been a significant fall in the number of paper tickets being sold. For example:

  • Nearly 80% fall in sales of the MyBus TravelTen over the past 12 months
  • 89% fall in sales of the Adult and Concession MyMulti tickets over the past 12 months
  • Almost 50% fall in sales of the Pensioner Excursion Tickets over the past 12 months
  • 72% fall in sales for the Light Rail Weekly over the past 12 months
  • 94% fall in sales of the MyFerry TravelTen in the past 12 months
  • Almost 70 per cent of all public transport trips are now with Opal
Figures: Bureau of Transport Statistics as at May 2014 – May 2015

Opal Revenue Protection App: Shortlisted 2015 Sydney Design Awards →

ORPA – TRANSPORT FOR NSW App Screenshot 1

Great to see that Transport for NSW’s Transport Officers get to use such a beautifully designed app to make their jobs easier – the ability to quickly check the status of an Opal card from the one smartphone device they’re already carrying for work.

The Opal card uses near field communication (NFC) technology that allows users to tap on and off at card readers across the Opal public transport network. ORPA takes advantage of this same type of technology, which is available on Android smartphones, to read the data on Opal cards. The app checks free read data as well as encrypted content stored on the card, and replaces the existing, single function, read-only portable readers that Transport Officers used to carry.

ORPA is a great example of how mobile technology creates great opportunities for organisations to streamline their operations while also building in flexibility for changes in the future.

More information on ORPA on Outware’s website available here.

Nine News Sydney: Opal Card users could be overcharged →

Tonight’s Nine News Sydney had a segment on the number of Opal card users and their default fares.

Between August 2014 and October 2014, customers were ‘overcharged’ 1,205,556 times, with fares worth $6,228,928. By ‘overcharged’, they mean copped a default fare.

In October 2014, customers incurred 508,067 default fares.

From this, than 6% of default fares become enquiries for refunds.

According to the Transport Minister, more than 135 million trips have been taken with the Opal card, with the percentage of default fares across all modes being 1-2%.

Nine News Sydney reports that the default fare percentage on buses can be up to 5%.

And then you have people like this…. tapping on at the gate next to you.

Opal Card Wrong Gate

Meanwhile, tonight’s story explains the post on the Transport for NSW Facebook page about what to do if you forget to tap off..

TfNSW/ePay denying new Opal card retailer applications →

According to the Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT, ePay are now denying new applicants who wish to become Opal card retailers. There are currently just over 1,800 retailers, including every 7Eleven, a handful of Woolworths stores, and an assortment of newsagents and other outlets,

Newsagents across NSW who have recently submitted applications to become Opal Card Retailers via Epay Australia have been denied and/or placed on a waiting list.

Epay Australia have confirmed that they have reached their quota and will work with Transport NSW to assess applications on a case by case basis.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out, with the announcement of separate Opal vending machines this year (starting with top up only machines).

Hopefully this is only a minor break before continuing with bringing more retailers onboard, as 1800 sure seems like an arbitrary number…

AFR: Seventy two fines heap pressure on UberX →

Seventy two fines heap pressure on UberX<br /><br /><br /><br /> Rogue hire car driver Russell Howarth enacted eight ­citizens arrests against UberX drivers during the past week. Photo: Steven Siewert

Australian Financial Review, 29th November 2014

NSW transport officials are cracking down on illegal ride-sharing operation UberX after months of see­ming inaction and regulatory confusion.

Seventy-two UberX drivers caught up in an undercover operation by NSW Roads and Maritime Services officials received fines of $2500 this week for ­offering hire care services illegally.

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