The New South Wales Government will start placing a weekly cost cap of $50 on Opal cards from Monday June 24.
The new cap is about 20 per cent lower than the current cap of $63.20 a week, and is expected to save public transport users up to $686 a year. These savings will also extend to users of the recently launched North West Metro, saving $563 a year for an adult customer travelling to and from Tallawong station and Central five days a week.
Examples of regular weekly commuters who could save $686 a year under the new plans include those travelling from Meadowban to Barangaroo via ferry, Tuggerah to Central and Kiama to Sutherland routes.
State premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the new cap would help to ease cost pressures for around 55,000 customers across NSW public transport services (including ferries).
Caps for concession holders will also be reduced as part of the plans. Opal card benefits such as weekly travel rewards and transfer discounts will also survive the new cap.
“We want to make public transport more affordable and that is why we are lowering the cap,” Ms Berejiklian said. “From Monday adults will pay no more than $50 a week and the concession cap will also be reduced from $31.60 to $25 a week.”
State transport minister Andrew Constance added that from Monday fares would rise in line with inflation at 1.9 per cent as opposed to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recommendation of 4.2 per cent.
“This means catching the train, bus, ferry, metro or light rail is still a much cheaper option than driving,” he said.
Passenger Rail, Technology and IT
Over one million commuters have travelled using the North West Metro within two weeks of the service’s launch, according to figures from the New South Wales Government.
The automated North West Metro opened on Sunday May 26 and runs for 13 stations between Tallawong and Chatswood. It transported an average of 72,000 patrons on weekdays, a statistic referred to by NSW Premier Gladys Berejikian as a “huge result for a brand new mode of transport”.
“The success shows just how much commuters appreciate the delivery of this game-changing project, which connects the area by rail like never before,” Berejiklian continued.
Line data gleaned from Opal found that May 29 had the busiest morning peak (23,330 trips) while May 28 had the biggest afternoon peak (27,542 trips) across over 3,400 metro train services. May 30 was the busiest day overall since the Metro’s launch, recording 75,876 trips.
The service launched on time at a cost of around $7.4 billion ($1 billion under budget). The service has suffered from a few initial technical issues, including a breakdown between Cherrybrook and Epping and a train that failed to stop properly at Chatswood station.
“As with any comparable railway of this scale around the world there have been some minor teething issues and we thank customers for their patience as we continue to fine tune the system,” said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.
Commuters at certain Sydney rail stations will now be able to see how crowded trains are in advance thanks to the introduction of occupancy indicator screens.
The indicator screens will indicate carriages with seats, standing room only carriages and completely full carriages using a colour-coding system. Red indicates that a carriage is full, amber indicates standing room only and green means that seats are still available.
The data is determined by weight sensors on the carriages that can indicate how many commuters are in each carriage and where spaces are still available. The technology is now brand new, but it is the first time the data has been made available at stations. Commuters previously had to access the data through the Transport for NSW Trip Planner (which launched in May last year), or other travel apps such as TripView, TripGo and Transport for NSW’s Opal app.
“The carriage capacity indicator has been available on real-time apps for more than a year and it has proven to be a great way for customers to quickly find out where seats are available on a train,” said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.
The station displays are currently usable at stops with Waratah trains, including the T1 North Shore and Western Lines. The system is one of several implementations being made at certain stations in preparation for the launch of Sydney Metro’s North West line on May 26.
The 36km North West line, which started construction in 2011, will run across 13 stations from Tallawong to Chatswood.
“When Metro opens in a week people are going to have to adjust to a whole new way of getting around Sydney, including transferring onto the existing rail network at Chatswood to get into the city,” Constance said.
“These capacity indicators will help passengers know where to go on the platform to get onto the train quickly and easily.”