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Introducing OPAL Card

Sydney / New South Wales Transport Discussion

Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby moa999 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:26 pm

The simple solution is to change the airport gate fare logic on tap off - they already have the machines inside the gate line.

And finish the contactless rollout and apply the Opal discounts. Card issuance then drops.

But given they still haven't fixed how Light Rail shows on the website - priced like a bus, but shown as a "T"rain, I don't see it happening anytime soon.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby andy_centralcoast » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:20 am

I notice News.com.au is talking up the $2.6m in negative balances again as the headline for this story.
https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy ... d3c9f0694a

Of course no mention of the other side of the equation for how much money has been left on lost or discarded Opals. I know of families who after a Sydney holiday have thrown away Opals with around $10 each.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby matthewg » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:45 pm

Campbelltown busboy wrote:
boronia wrote:Perhaps they could charge, say, $5 for the card, which could be credited if the card is registered for auto top-up?
How do the government convince the people that use their adlult opal anonymously and that want to stay anonymous to register their cards to start with


Simple - if you want to stay anonymous (which is false anyway), pay the fee.

I don't see why the entire system should cost more due to some foil hatters worried about the government tracking them. I'd bet most of those making the complaints carry mobile phones. Guess what 'they' know where you are with far more accuracy than could be gleaned from opal. Mobile phones can be localised down to 10s of metres WITHOUT GPS. Even if you carry the phone turned off, the moment you turn it on to actually use it, BANG, 'they' know where you are....


Besides, all the cards have a unique serial number. (As did the magnetic tickets that came before.) They can track the movement of ANY card anyway. Most stations have CCTV. By comparing timestamps they will be able to find a match soon enough and if any real issue was involved the RPOs could just wait at a regular haunt for the card and do a 'random' ticket check and pull aside the person with the 'suspect' card.
They can do it in London with Oyster, they even showed the process on the series 'The Tube' on their revenue protection episode. It's tedious to do, lots of CCTV footage has to be downloaded and checked, but it's not that hard to do.

Pretty well every other city that issues 'smart card' tickets have some sort of purchase/deposit price on the cards. Sydney is the odd one out here, not charging a deposit or issuing fee. Given the cards cost a couple of dollars each, it's not just the lost fare revenue either - there is a cost to each card that is being lost.

Over the last couple of years, I've picked up a dozen or so Opal cards off the ground. About half of them were not registered. The highest balance was $6, most were under $1. 2 were negative and probably deliberately discarded.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Swift » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:14 pm

^ this is how humans treat things that are given free. Attach a modest value to them and the impact is huge.
Nothing demonstrates this better than the 10c deposit scheme on beverage containers. When it was first introduced, I managed to collect plenty after a half hour walk. Now there are far less on the streets. The scheme has had the desired effect.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boronia » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:11 pm

Yeh, we have the derro's coming around at all hours rooting through recycling bins looking for cans/bottles. They just pull every thing out of the bins and leave it on the ground for someone else to pick up.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby andy_centralcoast » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:38 pm

Minimum Opal top up at the Airport stations has been increased to $35. You can still buy a single trip ticket for $18.70.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Jurassic_Joke » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:49 pm

andy_centralcoast wrote:Minimum Opal top up at the Airport stations has been increased to $35. You can still buy a single trip ticket for $18.70.


"Great, lets gouge those annoying tourists as much as we can" :D (I think i remember they require an australian bank account too for the refunds, not sure)

On a serious note,

1) Fixed balance amounts have always been one of the most stupid things about Opal. Look at Londons Oyster (cubic product as well), they literally have the ticket machines set up so you can top up like "insert coins as you wish", and then that amount is credited. It was ok back in the starting days, when the weekly cap was $60, so you just add $60 and give yourself a weekly pass in essence, but its gone up since.

2) i fail to see how that addresses the actual issue (exiting station with negative balance). You can still get a throwaway card coming in to the airport, tap off, throw it away..starting your trip at the airport, the software has always been set so the minimum tap-on balance includes the airport fee, so not really sure what setting an increased top-up minimum does
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Swift » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:25 pm

Jurassic_Joke wrote:
andy_centralcoast wrote:


1) Fixed balance amounts have always been one of the most stupid things about Opal. Look at Londons Oyster (cubic product as well), they literally have the ticket machines set up so you can top up like "insert coins as you wish", and then that amount is credited.

I came across a machine at Edgecliff (I think that was the station) that lets you top up with whatever you wish.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby BanksfielderIdiot823 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:49 pm

Jurassic_Joke wrote: 1) Fixed balance amounts have always been one of the most stupid things about Opal. Look at Londons Oyster (cubic product as well), they literally have the ticket machines set up so you can top up like "insert coins as you wish", and then that amount is credited.


Yo, don't forget Melbourne; topping up a Myki also lets you put whatever amount you want, as long as it's between $1 and $120.

But yeah, that's absolutely messed up on Opal's part, especially if you've just missed out on enough balance to go, let's say 4 sections on the bus, and all you have in your pocket is a $2 coin.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby stupid_girl » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:01 am

andy_centralcoast wrote:Minimum Opal top up at the Airport stations has been increased to $35. You can still buy a single trip ticket for $18.70.

I think there is also newsagent at the airport.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby neilrex » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:39 pm

If the giant computer was really so smart, then it should be able to tell exactly how many of the apparently dormant Opal cards have a negative balance, and exactly how many of those were last used for a trip to the airport.

When they say "we've issued 10 million Opal cards and only 2 million have been used recently" ( or some words to that effect ), then it doesn't sound like the giant computer is actually that smart. Were all 8 million of the not-recently-used cards in deficit ? Or only some of them ? How many of them ?
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby matthewg » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:46 pm

neilrex wrote:When they say "we've issued 10 million Opal cards and only 2 million have been used recently" ( or some words to that effect ), then it doesn't sound like the giant computer is actually that smart. Were all 8 million of the not-recently-used cards in deficit ? Or only some of them ? How many of them ?


They should have more detailed figures. But they would have been to much for the ministers simple brain. The Opal people will know the exact figures. But this isn't just the airport. They should not be giving away the cards free and also allowing negative balances.

Of of the students at work has also been working in a 7-11. He's been telling people who front up with Opal cards that show a negative balance, 'why are you topping up this card, here I'll give you a new one'. I rather doubt this was sanctioned policy of the store, but how many other poor students working in a convenience store for terrible pay and hours thought of the same thing ?


Also there is no incentive for people to 'protect' the card as the only value is the cash equivalent stored on them. Lose a registered card, just get a new one and request a balance transfer.

Pretty well every other system I know of has a card deposit fee that covers all or most of the amount you can send the card negative. Some systems will even hand you the deposit value back when you cash in the card at the airport transport booth.

NSW takes the 'rort the user' approach and acts all surprised when the users rort them back.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby andy_centralcoast » Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:31 pm

Auto-topup works a bit like a card deposit fee where you always have at least $10 sitting on your card that can never be spent on fares.

The government are very quick to mention how much revenue has been 'lost' due to cards with negative balances, but they never mention the other side of the equation. How much extra revenue has been 'gained' from inactive cards with positive balances, or from the surplus of auto-topup credit that never gets used? Or from default fares when readers malfunctioned and the customer hasn't noticed they've been overcharged or thought to request a fare adjustment?
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby jpp42 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:54 pm

I was in Wellington NZ last week and shocked that they have a card fee of NZ $11 for their Snapper card! I am not sure if any of that is refundable but it didn't include any credit. Happy that NSW hasn't gone that front. I only used it for 2 bus rides of less than NZ$2 each, but after adding NZ$10 credit, overall this cost me around AU$20. I'll go back one day so should get to use it again, but it still felt like a rip off.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boxythingy » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:01 am

Not putting in a deposit legitimises the behaviour of those who deliberately run their cards into negative balance and then throw them away.

This behaviour is at the expense of concession card holders who incidentally or innocently forget to bring their card whilst travelling!
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby moa999 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:46 am

I agree a minimal card fee that reflects real costs (eg $2 production plus $1 distribution) is fair enough and discourages the small losses.
And then change the airport logic.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby andy_centralcoast » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:48 pm

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/pol ... 508qo.html

An Opal card was the key to determining the last known movements of a woman who police suspect was murdered last week. Police used Nicole Cartwright's Opal card to track her movements between September 27 and September 30.

A CCTV image capture of Ms Cartwright at Museum station at 9.15pm on September 30 is the last time she was seen alive. CCTV vision of her boarding a bus five days before she was found dead has been released in an appeal for information to assist a police investigation.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby simonl » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:12 am

boronia wrote:Many systems impose a refundable deposit on their cards

Even more have a non refundable deposit.

The simplest and most obvious solution is to require the maximum fare to be present rather than the minimum - this does the same job as the deposit. Obviously, you'd require a positive balance to tap off at the airport, with a top up machine inside the gates. I think the latter might be already present, can't remember.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boronia » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:01 pm

andy_centralcoast wrote:https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/police-confirm-identity-of-woman-whose-body-was-found-in-hunters-hill-20181010-p508qo.html

An Opal card was the key to determining the last known movements of a woman who police suspect was murdered last week. Police used Nicole Cartwright's Opal card to track her movements between September 27 and September 30.

A CCTV image capture of Ms Cartwright at Museum station at 9.15pm on September 30 is the last time she was seen alive. CCTV vision of her boarding a bus five days before she was found dead has been released in an appeal for information to assist a police investigation.


It was interesting reading her other detected movements, including bus travel (also CCTV logged).

Maybe not everything was listed, but there seemed to be large distance gaps between one tap off and the next tap on.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:01 pm

simonl wrote:The simplest and most obvious solution is to require the maximum fare to be present rather than the minimum - this does the same job as the deposit.


It is simple for the implementors (spell check suggests tormentors) though potentially more complex than enabling code that has already been written as suggested in an initial Opal purchase receipt. However, this approach has some unpleasant consequences for users and it is more difficult to spin the "we don't trust you" intention. For a start that would effectively make card deposits retrospective which is reason enough not to proceed with that approach, Remedying that would be complex, perhaps impossible. If part of this pseudo-deposit is meant to be non-refundable than a Opal refund fee would also need to be introduced. Consumer law might require that existing users be exempt from that. All new purchasers would now only get a single trip from the purchase of the card and the system changed or shop assistant advised to suggest a higher initial top up.

Another issue is that people would need to know more than the fares payable for a journey. they would also need to know the minimum of the most expensive mode.

Introducing card deposits provides an opportunity to make the system a bit more user friendly. Myki allows you to ride provided your balance is not negative. While the Myki could easily improve this to allow you to complete your journey if it involves transfers, since this would put you no further into the red, the current Myki behaviour would probably be the best we could hope for under Opal unless the initial card fees were equivalent to the daily cap.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby stupid_girl » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:48 pm

simonl wrote:
boronia wrote:Many systems impose a refundable deposit on their cards

Even more have a non refundable deposit.

The simplest and most obvious solution is to require the maximum fare to be present rather than the minimum - this does the same job as the deposit. Obviously, you'd require a positive balance to tap off at the airport, with a top up machine inside the gates. I think the latter might be already present, can't remember.

If I'm an occasional traveller and take the train for a short journey, why should I be forced to put the maximum fare in the card? :evil:
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:02 pm

To avoid paying any refundable card deposit. You'd actually be better off at times when you didn't need to travel because the government wouldn't be holding so much money of yours. If you had the maximum fare of $X on your card rather than a deposit all of that $X could potentially be used for travelling. Your card balance could also fall below $X. With a card deposit the best financial position you could achieve is by going negative and the maximum negative amount is the difference between the minimum fare and the maximum fare.
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