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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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.

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;)

transportnsw.info, 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.
Th

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.

Transport for NSW: Central Station – new Transport Customer Service Centre →

transportnsw.info, 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.

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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AFR: Howard Collins’s great train adventure →

Howard Collins

Eighteen months into the job, Howard Collins is clear-eyed about the slog ahead. Fixing ­Sydney rail will take billions of dollars and five to 10 years, he says.

CHARIS PERKINS, Australian Financial Review, 1st November 2014

Howard Collins “the Tube man”, as ­London mayor Boris Johnson called him, counts himself a lucky man. After 35 years with London Transport, he is delighted to wake up each morning in his house overlooking the sea in the south Sydney suburb of Woolooware – bought in blithe defiance of the city’s postcode snobbery – and catch an early train to Central.

And neither union battles, nor early criticism of his $500,000-plus salary, nor the ­gargantuan challenge of dragging Sydney’s antiquated railways into the 21st century can spoil his enthusiasm. At that stage in a solid career, when some might begin ticking off the years to retirement, the chief ­executive of Sydney Trains is a man ­invigorated by a new adventure.

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