Farewell to the Opal Free Travel Reward forever

Posted: 2 September 2016 11:12 am

Opal hacking is no more, but I'm looking on the bright side.

So the day is almost here. Regular Findings readers will know that I've long been a committed "Opal hacker", determined to take advantage of the quirk in Sydney's Opal public transport smartcard that offers free travel across the network once you've taken eight trips. From next Monday (5 September), that option disappears, replaced with half-price fares after you make eight journeys.

I marked the disappearance of the free Travel Reward by staging the Ultimate Opal Hack, travelling more than 1600 kilometres for the bargain-basement price of $19.72. Like many others, I've kept Opal hacking since then, right up until this week. And while I'm a little annoyed that I'll be paying a minimum of $15 a week more for public transport come next Monday, I'm going to look on the bright side.

Despite the changes, the most I ever have to pay to travel on the regular Sydney public transport network right now is $60 a week. Even if I travelled repeatedly to the airport every single week for an entire year, the most I would pay would be $4,420 a year. That's not chicken feed, but it's far less than the effective annual cost of owning and registering a car, even before you start putting petrol in it or paying for airport parking.

And for that money I can travel on trains, buses and ferries for hundreds of kilometres, as far as Scone and Kiama and Bathurst and Goulburn, on some of the most beautiful waterways in the world and to all sorts of remote locations. Not to mention that I can get to work to and from the city every day while reading or working or daydreaming, none of which would be an option if I was stuck in traffic.

Prices rise; that's a fact of life. I've been happy to take advantage of the Travel Reward while it was there. Now it's gone, I'll just have to hunt down other ways to save money.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

The Ultimate Opal Hack

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