One thing I haven't found on the Opal website is how the system will handle a fare which will place the Opal card into a negative balance, e.g. If I tag on at Central (i) with a balance of $4.00 and travel to Katoomba (when the system is fully enabled), which has a fare of $8.10 - placing my Opal balance at ($4.10).
myki and Go get around this by having a purchase price and refundable deposit respectively to get the card, Opal doesn't.
Any ideas on what they will be doing?
I would expect that once the system goes into 'production' instead of trial, to gain entry to a railway station your card balance will have to be more than the maximum fare. I actually expect they will round it up - if you don't have $10 credit, you won't be allowed to tag-on at a railway station. You may even get a message saying 'go to top up machine and try again'.
I think they are saving that one up, as there will be the inevitable howls of protect about it being unfair to low-incomer earners or the poor or something. (But the people making the most noise will not be in those groups I would expect).
But they have to do that, or have a card deposit, otherwise you open up a fraud loop hole for people to send their cards negative, ditch the card, and just get a new one. Also very wasteful of cards that cost approx $1 each.
I noticed with my own Opal, that a 'transaction' has been logged against the card for 'Auto top up configured' at the same time as I tagged on (to the Manly ferry). This was NOT the time I did this on-line. So they appear to have written the 'auto top up' status to the card. On the face of it, there is no reason for this information to be recorded on the card itself. It's purely a back office function.
Given the inherent delays in bank card processing, it would be very easy to find your Opal below $10 or even negative. It would not be 'good form' to reject the Opal of an auto-top up customer and tell them to go to a top-up machine. I suspect they are recording the status to the card to specifically allow the card balance to go negative, as they know, sooner or later, depending on your bank, they will get the money.
Even the minimum auto-top up amount is a bit low - some people don't like the idea of them taking the top at $40 at a time, but for me, my current weekly is $34. Once Opal is under way and I can no longer get my railway periodical, that would mean the auto-top up threshold would be triggering about once a week. Scale that up by the number of potential card users, and Opal's bank would go into 'meltdown' thinking they have a 'denial of service' attack against their settlement system