Bus and Tram Express
Bus and Tram Express

Opal card debacle

Feb 24, 2015News

Opal Card Default Fare - Channel 9Commuters are paying millions of dollars worth of extra fares because of a glitch in the Opal card system, which means that users are often charged the maximum fare even when they tap off correctly.

According to media reports, customers were overcharged more than 1.2 million times in just three months last year.

You can watch Channel 9’s video coverage here.

This revelation comes as no surprise to Bus Operators in Sydney and Newcastle. The Opal system is unreliable at this stage, especially on buses. The reason is that if a customer taps on to the bus but the system then crashes meaning the commuter is unable to tap off when they arrive at their destination. They then end up being charged the default amount, which is the maximum fare.

However, this is not the worst part of Opal. Due to the system crashing on a regular basis, the Union believes this is costing the Government millions of dollars each week. In the 21st century and with the advancement of technologies, how can it be so hard to have this system running efficiently?

We are also starting to field complaints from the drivers over the safety aspect of the Opal system. When passengers are exiting through the rear doors of the bus, they often tap off and walk out the doors only to realise that they didn’t hear a beep from the Opal machine. The passenger then re-enters the rear doors to tap off a second time catching the drivers unaware which can lead to rear door entrapment which could result in injury.

As reported in the media, the delay in commuters tapping off the bus when the Opal system is working is adding to late running of buses, which is also causing frustration with commuters and bus operators.

The Opal system is meant to speed up the network and make travelling on transport cheaper and easier whilst going from one transport mode to another.

Unfortunately, in reality the Opal system at this point is a disappointment and the Opal contractors need a good shakeup, otherwise this Opal system will become the Tcard of 2015. That was a very costly and wasteful experience and we would have hoped that all parties involved would have learnt from that experience.

Drivers are close to the end of their patience with the Opal system.