The NSW Government is making a big deal of the fact that commuters can now add value to their Opal public transport cards at ‘an extra 60 top up machines’.
The real news is not the 60 new machines – the first of 350 that are planned – but the fact that the system was introduced in the first place with so few places where this basic function could be performed.
The slow and piecemeal introduction of the Opal card led to the ludicrous situation where train stations could not sell them, while newsagents could. Even today, most train stations in Sydney are unable to top up Opal cards for commuters.
But Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance is now talking about “more choice and more convenience for customers,” while not dwelling on the fewer choices and lack of convenience of the past and –in many cases – the present.
“The roll out of Opal top up machines is now extending from more than 30 locations to nearly 100 stations and wharves, giving customers the option to add value to their card on-the-go. Opal has transformed the way people catch public transport, putting an end to Sydney’s ticket queues, and these 60 extra top up machines will make it even more convenient for customers,” Mr Constance gushed.
Sydney was very late in introducing a card-based ticketing system, after many previous false starts. But better late than never – the Opal is proving popular and will eventually replace conventional tickets completely. Over three million Opal cards have been issued to commuters, with more than 8 million trips a week taken with Opal.
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