Opal card rolls out to buses

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres, Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian with the Opal card which goes live on Blue Mountains buses this week.

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres, Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian with the Opal card which goes live on Blue Mountains buses this week.

The state's new transport system, Opal, is steadily being rolling out across NSW, this week going live on buses in the Mountains.

The system, which uses a card to quickly tap on, tap off for travel on trains, Sydney ferries and buses, will replace some paper tickets from September, and not everyone's happy.

Transport users will be unable to buy or top-up their Opal cards at most Sydney train stations, except at temporary 'pop-up kiosks', instead buying or topping the cards up online or by phone using a credit or debit card. The cards will eventually be sold at retail outlets near train and bus stops which currently allow people to top-up their cards.

Labor candidate for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle, said there was a huge amount of concern, disbelief and confusion in the community about the Opal card.

"People tell me that they don't want their bank card linked to the Opal system - they just want to buy a ticket. Older and younger travellers are concerned about availability of concessions. Commuters tell me they're angry with the Liberal government for wasting half a million dollars on a cheesy 'Opal Man' Card advertising campaign - when requested solutions to slashed timetable services, extra station staff and safe, clean trains were ignored," she said.

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres said pensioners and seniors could still continue to buy their paper Pensioner Excursion Tickets.

"The Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card will be released later this year with a daily travel cap of $2.50. We will have more details about how seniors and pensioners can get their Opal card and top it up in the coming months."

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said retiring some paper tickets was part of the NSW government's commitment to bringing the state's public transport network into the 21st century.

"More than 450,000 Opal cards have already been issued, giving customers access to cheaper fares, daily travel caps, free travel rewards and the convenience of never having to queue for a ticket again," Ms Berejiklian said.

But Ms Doyle said a number of locals were telling her that Opal was costing them more to travel to work.

"We will see thousands of commuters who use a combination of bus and train or were previously on monthly, quarterly or yearly tickets pay more for travel," she said.

She was also disappointed that schools have been disadvantaged by the slashing of 'off-peak' tickets for school group travel.

Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage said: "Blue Mountains customers using Opal get a range of benefits, including a daily travel cap of $15, a weekly travel cap of $60, and unlimited travel on Sundays for no more than $2.50.

"Regular Opal users also get free travel after eight paid journeys in a week - which means they can catch trains, buses and ferries at no cost."

Mrs Sage said Opal cards would be available at pop-up kiosks set up to rotate weekly across Blaxland, Katoomba and Springwood stations on Mondays and Tuesdays from this week until the end of September.

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