How Opal saves me money
Sydney is currently rolling out a new contactless smartcard ticketing system across its public transport network. The trial launched in December 2012 on ferry services and started rolling out to trains and buses in 2013.
A lot of the criticism of Opal hasn’t been about the technology but has rather been around its fare structure and lack of multi-modal fares. This is a valid concern, however blanket statements that Opal will cost more are frustrating as they’re not always true.
I’ve been able to travel 100% of the time on Opal since early February so with this in mind I thought I’d take a quick look at my travel over the past 5 weeks and see if I’m better or worse off.
Week 1 - Feb 2 to Feb 9
This week involved train only travel in an area between Bondi Junction and Strathfield.
Total cost on Opal: $30.21 Cheapest weekly paper ticket: $35.00 (MyTrain 1 - Bondi Junction to Strathfield)
Week 2 - Feb 10 to Feb 16
This week involved train travel between Kings Cross and Strathfield as well as a ferry trip to McMahons Point.
Total cost on Opal: $36.80 Cheapest paper tickets: $41.00
Week 3 - Feb 17 to Feb 23
This week involved train only travel between Bondi Junction and Strathfield.
Total cost on Opal: $31.20 Cheapest weekly paper ticket: $35.00 (MyTrain 1 - Bondi Junction to Strathfield)
Week 4 - Feb 24 to March 2
This week involved train travel between Bondi Junction and Olympic Park as well as a ferry trip to Manly.
Total cost on Opal: $30.40 Cheapest paper tickets: $55.80 (MyTrain1 - Bondi Junction to Olympic Park and a return MyFerry2 to Manly).
Week 5 - March 3 to March 9
A nice quiet week with train only travel between Kings Cross and Strathfield.
Total cost on Opal: $31.20 Cheapest weekly paper ticket: $35.00 (MyTrain 1 - Kings Cross to Strathfield)
Opal vs Paper
Over the 5 weeks, Opal saved me $41.99 or an average of $8.40 per week. Assuming these travel trends continue and assuming I work 48 weeks in a year, that’s a saving of about $407 over the year.
That’s in addition to the convenience of not having to line up to buy my ticket each week, and not having to decide where I’m going to travel in advance. For example; there have been circumstances where I’ve been invited out to dinner in North Sydney or further up while on the train home between Strathfield and Town Hall. With paper tickets I’d need to get off and buy a new ticket, but with Opal I can just stay on the train and tap off at my new destination.
As the Opal rollout continues even if it did cost me more I’d probably still pay it - just because of that convenience (please don’t tell Gladys) :)