JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Are we $98 million worse off under Opal?

Jani Patokallio argues the government is pocketing about $100m from Opal.

Jani Patokallio argues the government is pocketing about $100m from Opal.

Do you pay more using the Opal card?

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian insists the great majority of public transport users - at least 90 per cent - will be better off or the same under the fares policy for the new smartcard.

But the minister has never provided documentation to prove this.

Gladys Berejiklian insists 90 per cent of people will pay the same or less using Opal.

Gladys Berejiklian insists 90 per cent of people will pay the same or less using Opal. Photo: Kate Geraghty

And now the creator of a website that allows commuters to punch in their regular trips and compare them to the cost of an Opal reckons the government could pocket nearly $100 million a year extra from higher fares, a figure Transport for NSW disputes.

That figure is derived from more than 130,000 fare comparisons the site has crowdsourced from people who have plugged their journey into the Opal or Not website.

Transport for NSW is not fond of Opal or Not, created by app developer Jani Patokallio.

After Fairfax Media reported his preliminary findings in March, the department demanded Mr Patokallio remove the Opal logo from his site.

It then sent him a 26-page list of problems with his comparisons. In a report posted late on Wednesday, Mr Patokallio addresses each of those problems, concedes a few points, but still argues a $98 million a year figure is robust enough.

Despite this, one commentator on his analysis has already pointed out that at least one of the assumptions Mr Patokallio makes when arriving at the figure may be flawed, as it assumes all train commuters purchase the cheapest paper ticket available when this may not be the case.

Transport for NSW also disputed the analysis, saying its finding were "completely false".

"The fact is the overwhelming majority of customers will pay the same or less using Opal as they would using paper tickets," a Transport for NSW spokesman said.

"The NSW government has always assumed a cost-neutral position in relation to farebox revenue."

One of the main criticisms Mr Patokallio makes of Opal is echoed by a wide range of transport academics: under the smartcard, commuters need to pay extra every time they change from a train to a bus or a bus to a train or between a ferry and another mode of transport.

This discourages transfers between modes of transport, and penalises people who live further from train stations.

Mr Patokallio was moved to create the website after noticing that he would pay significantly more under the Opal than using a ferry TravelTen ticket between his home in Abbotsford and Pyrmont, where he works about three days a week.

But he will soon not have the option of buying an adult ferry TravelTen.

Transport for NSW will stop selling 14 paper-based tickets from September, including the ferry ticket and relatively generously priced yearly and quarterly tickets.

Transport for NSW has been asked for a comment on the latest report by Opal or Not.

What do you pay under the Opal? Leave a comment below

With Ben Grubb

123 comments so far

  • People who travel less often are going to be disadvantaged when the paper tickets are discontinued in September. We will still have to invest about $20 in an Opal card to be able to get some sort of discount but basically unless you travel at least 8 times a week, you won't get a discount. Transport NSW therefore has your money until you use it.

    Commenter
    Lisa
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 31, 2014, 9:50AM
    • From what I can see, people who travel less have a saving, its the weekly, monthly, yearly and off peak that will pay more.

      Commenter
      Commuter
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 2:31PM
  • Casual user I am worse off using Opal probable 10% and the inconvenience trying to swipe when getting on/off bus make bus stopping time longer.

    Commenter
    Hop[pyPete
    Location
    Wenty
    Date and time
    July 31, 2014, 9:54AM
    • I too am a casual user of the city express bus service run by Hills Bus. I pay 10c less using the Opal card & I find it more convenient than having to buy a ticket from the driver each time so I am definitely a fan of the Opal card. Go Gladys Berejiklian, the ONLY NSW transport minister in the last 20 years who has actually done anything other than just opening their big mouths!

      Commenter
      Lewis
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 11:40AM
  • Why is this article in "The Age"???

    Commenter
    mal duxworthy
    Date and time
    July 31, 2014, 9:54AM
    • For the same reason articles about Myki or the MCG or a crash on Collins St appear in the "SMH" -- The Age and The SMH are the same company

      Commenter
      BEcause
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 10:12AM
    • And the same reason they publish Melbourne music and theatre reviews on smh.com.au...
      they think we're all one big location, apparently.

      What happened to LOCAL?

      Commenter
      sydney-theatre
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 10:34AM
    • Don't read it!

      Commenter
      Claypole
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 10:47AM
    • So that Melburnians can see that, despite all their whinges about Myki, it could be worse...

      Commenter
      Phil
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 11:19AM
    • As a Melbournian I'm finding it interesting to see how Sydney is progressing with their smart card rollout for public transport now we've had our Myki smartcard for a while. Of course our rollout was as smoooth as silk , hardly a blip on the radar. :) ...but the complaints are not the same we had. The variation of rail, road and water vs Rail, tram and bus. True distance based fares vs Zones based fares The $60 within a week cap vs the $12.12 daily cap here.
      The airport public transport levy and then how they manage tourists which I don' think is mentioned yet vs how we still seem to baffle tourists in Melbourne.
      I wonder if they will have 6 transit police at every city station like here to check every concession card holders when that light flashes "this person has not paid a full fare".

      Commenter
      Rocky
      Location
      Docklands Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 31, 2014, 1:06PM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.