|Launched||Ferries: 7 December 2012
Trains: 14 June 2013
Buses: 30 September 2013
Light Rail: 2015
|Technology||Contactless smart card by
Cubic Transportation Systems
MiFare DESFire EV1
|Manager||Transport for NSW|
|Stored-value||Pay as you go|
|Auto recharge||Auto Top Up|
|Light rail in Sydney|
|Public Transit Stations|
Opal is a contactless smartcard ticketing system being rolled out for public transport services in the greater Sydney area. The Opal card was officially launched as a trial in December 2012, beginning available for use on selected ferry services, with the card due to be fully rolled out by 2015. It will eventually be valid on all bus, rail, light rail and government ferry services in the Sydney, Central Coast, Hunter Region, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Illawarra areas.
Sydney has used a number of automated ticketing systems since the opening of the Eastern Suburbs Railway in June 1979. The current Sydney Automated Fare Collection System (AFC) was rolled out across all CityRail, Sydney Buses, Western Sydney Buses, Sydney Ferries and Newcastle Buses & Ferries services between 1988 and 1993. The system featured loose integration between the different modes of transport, a complex fare structure and excluded private operators.
A unified brand for the majority of public transport tickets was introduced in April 2010. MyZone was designed to simplify the fare system and remove one of the stumbling blocks to the introduction of a smart card. The AFC system was retained where it was in use, but tickets could also be used on private buses - and subsequently on the light rail in Sydney - by presenting a ticket to the driver or conductor.
A replacement for the AFC based on smart card technology, named Tcard, was first announced by the Government of New South Wales in 1996, with the aim of having a system in place before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The contract was awarded to ERG Group, but was delayed until 2002 due to a lawsuit from the losing bidder Cubic Transportation Systems, which was labelled 'dishonest' by the presiding Supreme Court of NSW judge.
The development and rollout of the system was beset with difficulties, leading the Government to terminate the contract in November 2007. The government sued ERG for $77 million who counter sued for $215m. The claim was settled in February 2012.
In July 2008, only months after terminating the Tcard contract, it was revealed that the smartcard system project had been revived by the government.
In August 2008 the NSW Government called for expressions of interest for the second attempt at the project, open to other Smart Card providers. In April 2010 the NSW Government awarded the contract to the Pearl Consortium, whose members are the Commonwealth Bank, Cubic Transportation Systems and Downer EDi. The system will also replace the various ticket machines used by private bus operators.
In September 2011 the new name for the system was announced as 'Opal', chosen from a selection of 665 names. Transport for New South Wales said Opal was chosen because it was 'uniquely Australian', short, and easy to say. As well as the opal being Australia's national gemstone, the black opal is the New South Wales gemstone symbol.
The first stage of the Opal card rollout commenced on 7 December 2012 as a trial on the Neutral Bay to Circular Quay ferry service followed on 8 April 2013 by the Manly to Circular Quay service, and on 12 August 2013 to the Eastern Suburbs, Mosman and Taronga Zoo. From 30 August 2013 Opal was available on all Sydney Ferries services.
On 14 June 2013 Opal was first rolled out on train services on the City Circle and T4 Eastern Suburbs lines. On 30 August 2013 Opal went live on train services on the North Shore line as far as Chatswood. Opal was extended west to Strathfield and north to Wyong along the North Shore and Northern Lines on 31 January 2014, and on 14 February 2014 the rollout was further extended to Casula via Granville, the T6 Carlingford Line, and the T7 Olympic Park Line.
On 30 September 2013 Opal was rolled out on bus services on Transdev Shorelink Buses services 594 and 594H. On 6 December 2013 Opal was rolled out on Sydney Buses' route 333 from Circular Quay to Bondi Beach, one of Sydney's most heavily used routes.
There will be five different Opal card fare types, each with their own easily identifiable colour; Adult (black), Concession (silver), Senior/Pensioner (gold), Child/Youth (green) and Student (blue). Non-reloadable Opal cards will be introduced at a future date.
Despite increasing uptake in the Opal card customer trial, some journeys mainly involving the transfer of one mode to another would result in a large fare increase compared to current periodic fares. Default fares have also been criticized as failing to touch off when using trains can result in a default fare of up to $8.10. On unofficial fare comparison site Opal or Not, over half of all compared public transport trips were found to be more expensive using Opal than with paper tickets.
- go card, Brisbane's smartcard system
- List of smart cards
- Metrocard, Adelaide's smartcard system
- myki, Melbourne's smartcard system
- SmartRider, Perth's smartcard system
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- Opal card Transport for NSW
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- "A new voyage for Opal card" Daily Telegraph 25 March 2013
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- Opal card rollout on Sydney Ferries Transport for NSW
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- Opal roll out begins for train customers Transport for NSW 2 June 2013
- The end of ticket queues: Minister announces Opal trial Sydney Morning Herald 2 June 2013
- Opal card rollout on trains Transport for NSW
- Opal card use to be extended next week Sydney Morning Herald 23 January 2014
- Opal goes live for Western Sydney train customers: now active at 94 stations NSW Government: Opal 14 February 2014
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- Opal Smartcards Transport NSW Retrieved on 2 December 2013
- Opal card types Transport for NSW 25 November 2012