It’s official: Opal hacking is dead, but fares won’t rise in NSW
Existing fares for public transport are frozen, but the Weekly Travel Reward is changing.
The NSW government is going ahead with plans to eliminate free travel for anyone who makes more than eight journeys a week using the Opal public transport smartcard, effectively killing off the practice of "Opal hacking".
Last month, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recommended that the current scheme be replaced with one where journeys are half-price after the first eight trips. IPART also suggested that passengers changing from one mode of transport to another (such as from a bus to train) should receive a $2 discount on the second journey.
NEW OPAL FARE CALCULATOR - FULLY UPDATED
Will you be paying more or less under the new rules? Use our Opal Fare Calculator, updated to cover the new official changes, to find out. Simply enter your home and work address and we'll identify the possible transport options for a weekly commuter and how much they'll cost now and when the rules change.
Today the NSW Government announced that it will be adopting both those changes. However, it won't be taking up three of the other IPART recommendations: to increase the pensioner Opal card daily cap to $2.50, and to increase daily caps to $18, and to lift fares overall.
Instead, fares will be frozen until July 2017. The new changes come into place from September 5.
With Opal hacking, it was possible to make eight journeys in a single day before hitting the $15 daily cap, which effectively offered free transport -- the so-called "Weekly Travel Reward" -- across all ferries, trains and buses for the rest of the week. While not many people went that far, 30% of Opal users did regularly qualify for the weekly travel award. Now, you'll only qualify for free travel based on number of journeys if you spend more than $60 in a week or $15 in a day, which is a possibility for longer train and ferry journeys. (Sunday $2.50 caps are also continuing.)
If you want to see the impact of the new fares on your ticket cost come September, use our Opal Fare Calculator to find out.
Picture: Beau Giles, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)