Opal Card Roll-out

 
  matthewg Train Controller

There have been rumblings that, like London, you will eventually be able to use a contactless payment card to travel. That would probably be more generally useful than trying to merge the backends of the two systems (and they have quite a different ticketing philosophy).
donttellmywife


London has accepted con tactless 'payment' cards on the buses since last year and it's rolling out right now onto the underground.
It's not really a replacement for Oyster, it's more of a way for 'casual' users to pay with out having to obtain a card.

TfL have issued warnings to people NOT to present a wallet full of cards to their gates from now on as an 'unexpected' card may be charged for the journey. This could be particularly annoying if you were expecting a 'free' trip 'cause you had reached the day cap, or the trip should have been validated against the pass on your Oyster and not charged.

This is the way of the future for fare payment I expect.

Cross acceptance of cards has more issues than just reconciliation, they need the encryption keys and file formats used for all systems they have 'reciprocal' arrangements with. Smart Card ticketing systems tend to place a lot of trust in the card to enable 'offline' operation, so they don't want those encryption keys wandering too far from home. Knowledge of the keys would allow certain types of fraud to be undertaken.

The credit card systems place far less trust in the card and instead focus more on back end systems detecting fraud.

BTW both Myki and Opal are using NXP Mifare Desfire. Gocard and the other earlier systems Mifare Classic. London is MiFare classic too, but I understand they are migrating to Desfire cards.

Most of the reader hardware can read just about anything - most of the newer cards available these days follow the NFC standard as does the reader hardware.

One annoying aspect of Opal is they haven't bothered to even attempt card discrimination, so you have to be careful to only present ONE NFC card to the terminal. So you can't present your wallet if you have a NFC credit card.

EMV credit cards can use a variety of card types - I've seen a Visa Prepaid implemented on a MiFare classic chip!. I suspect with the Comm Bank being involved in Opal, the acceptance of bank issued 'contactless payment cards' will come relatively quickly once the base system is in place.


Another annoying attribute of Desfire over Classic is significantly poorer read distance. I've already determined that an Opal terminal will read (and reject) my office building access card (MiFare Classic) from nearly 10cm from the reader plate, yet the MiFare Desfire Opal card has to be closer than 2cm from the SAME reader to get a valid read.

This is a known attribute of the technology, the manual for my building access system actually states that Desfire cards have shorter read range than a classic card - the system supports both.

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  Airvan99 Junior Train Controller


It's not really a replacement for Oyster, it's more of a way for 'casual' users to pay with out having to obtain a card.

.
"matthewg"


It has certainly started out that way. But with the extension of its operation onto the other forms of transport later this year. They are mentioning a daily cap and a weekly cap ( Monday to Sunday)  starting to sound more like OPAL.
I will be in London in September and report back.
  jCTate Beginner

I would like to see proof of the numbers in regards to opal users.
Me thinks the gov is BS and fudging it to justify the removal of booking clerks. It's obvious in regards to the hiring of 200 plus new CSA's.
Opal will not reduce fare evasion. Ppl will still rip off the system the same way they do now. A increase in fines for habitual offenders needs to be put in place as a deterrent.
  gmanning1 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
Opal will not reduce fare evasion. Ppl will still rip off the system the same way they do now. A increase in fines for habitual offenders needs to be put in place as a deterrent.
jCTate

I'd like to see all concession cards with a photo on them. Misuse of concession tickets is as a big a problem than not having a ticket at all IMO. A photo would act as a deterent for those that abuse them and make it easier for those who have to police it.

Taking the concession card away from those who abuse the system could be part of the punishment.
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
I'd like to see all concession cards with a photo on them. Misuse of concession tickets is as a big a problem than not having a ticket at all IMO. A photo would act as a deterent for those that abuse them and make it easier for those who have to police it.

Taking the concession card away from those who abuse the system could be part of the punishment.
gmanning1

Would be a good start.

I think simply that No concession for walkup; Ie Driver can only receipt full fare cash. Just put it simply $5 for a bus. Any form of concession must be using a electronic card. No card, no electronic fare, no concession.

Adelaide has its seniors cards with an integrated metrocard, and most use it very well. Most load $5 or $10 on for the odd times where they travel outside their designated free travel time.

Take the example of a student card with an integrated OPAL/MYKI/MetroCard/GoCard etc, that is issued annually. A fulltime student card typically expires 28/2 of the following year, and a new card is issued by then. Should the card persist on 1/3, a full fare is charged, unless transferred to the new card. The online portal would allow the student to update their card number to transfer their balance to the new card.

This could further be extended to the other providers, where an expiring concession, can be set on a card. If still eligible, the agency responsible for awarding the concession, can reapply the new concession.
  maestro Junior Train Controller

And on the 4th of April it will roll out along the south line to Goulburn, and the south coast line to Port Kembla and Bomaderry.
maestro

Latest from the Opal website...

Opal electronic ticketing will be extended to Blue Mountains, Hunter and Newcastle train stations on 11 April – marking the completion of the Opal rollout for all train customers.
  bpmsmith Station Master

Location: Platform 4 at Epping
I'm curious how they will work with the Airport Gate Fee. I assume you just pay the GatePass on arrival and away you go, or will it debit your Opal card the GatePass as well?
witsend

The $12.60 station access fee is deducted in addition to the normal rail fare, which might leave a negative balance that needs to be made good before the next journey.
Fare information - Airport station access fee
  AndyV Station Master

Does anyone know if you can get an opal card without having to pay the $40 up front? My sister is an occasional weekend user and was considering getting a card but she's been turned off by the minimum $40 top up. She unfortunately thought that it would link to her bank account and deduct money each trip rather than having to pre-pay in lots of $40.
  Airvan99 Junior Train Controller

Does anyone know if you can get an opal card without having to pay the $40 up front? My sister is an occasional weekend user and was considering getting a card but she's been turned off by the minimum $40 top up. She unfortunately thought that it would link to her bank account and deduct money each trip rather than having to pre-pay in lots of $40.
"AndyV"


Nope, even occasional users have to pony up for travel 10s. Deducting for each trip would be madness, as some banks have hefty activity charges. $40 is not much. Think of it as 16 Sundays when you can have unlimited train and ferry transport.
Hundreds of people on the manly ferry today traveling for $2.50 instead of 15.
  AndyV Station Master

Deducting for each trip would be madness, as some banks have hefty activity charges.

I think you fail to see it from her point of view, a regular customer who isn't a fanatic or overly knowledgeable on the intricacies of the train system. She currently pays by card for each trip, so in her mind the current system allows her to do this and she expected the smartcard to offer something equivalent.

$40 is not much.

To many people it isn't, but to others who are struggling it's a significant upfront payment that they hadn't budgeted for. If $40 wasn't much for her, she'd probably drive on the weekend instead of catch the train, but a car is not currently affordable for her.

Please consider other people's perspectives and situations, just because it makes sense for you doesn't mean it will for everyone. A simple 'no, this is the only option to get and use an opal card' would have been more polite.
  Airvan99 Junior Train Controller

Thanks for the lecture.
If you want the advantage you have  to pay for it. No free lunch.
Talking of free,  get your OPAL card while they are free. Almost all card systems around the world and in other states, have a deposit. Usually the equivalent of $10 or $20.
The deposit in Sydney could be up to $30 taking into account the max you could go into negative balance.
With the saving with Opal, the $40 initial is extremely reasonable.
  matthewg Train Controller

Does anyone know if you can get an opal card without having to pay the $40 up front? My sister is an occasional weekend user and was considering getting a card but she's been turned off by the minimum $40 top up. She unfortunately thought that it would link to her bank account and deduct money each trip rather than having to pre-pay in lots of $40.
AndyV

At this point in time, the $40 up front is the trade off for getting the actual card for free.

Once they start selling the cards over the counter, it will probably be less, I'd guess you will be able to get those with only $10 on them, but I can see cards supplied that way having a $6 'deposit' on them like Myki (and many other systems, I'm sure my Oyster cost a fiver originally).

Since the cards cost a few dollars each, the operator (TfNSW) needs to ensure they actually get reused a significant number of times if they are going to hand the cards out effectively for free.

The $40 upfront is one way, abet a some what crude way to ensure reuse.
  matthewg Train Controller

I think you fail to see it from her point of view, a regular customer who isn't a fanatic or overly knowledgeable on the intricacies of the train system. She currently pays by card for each trip, so in her mind the current system allows her to do this and she expected the smartcard to offer something equivalent.
AndyV


At some point, probably relatively soon, bank 'contact-less payment cards' will probably be accepted directly by the Opal system. A number of overseas systems are trialling this right now. (London is switching it on for LU soon and have had it working on their buses since late last year).

Commbank is part of the Perl consortium delivering Opal.

Using a specific contact-less smart card that then does 'live' transactions to a bank account is sort of pointless with this technology - just take the banking card directly. And that's exactly what's happening.


I suspect one of the reasons Opal terminals get upset when presented with multiple cards is the NFC part has already been set up to interact with banking cards so can't simply ignore them. So the readers read every thing in your wallet and then throw up a 'multiple cards presented' error.

If this person doesn't want up front commitment to Opal, keep buying paper tickets till the Opal equipment takes their bank card directly. It will happen, it's just a matter of when.

The government is being very cautious with the Opal roll out and being quite careful to roll new features out slowly and one at a time.

(Hence at this point, no over the counter cards, no student , child, concession, pension cards, no top up machine at stations, etc, etc)

I think they have seen the rolling disaster area that's Myki in Melbourne and are running scared.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
At this point in time, the $40 up front is the trade off for getting the actual card for free.

Once they start selling the cards over the counter, it will probably be less, I'd guess you will be able to get those with only $10 on them, but I can see cards supplied that way having a $6 'deposit' on them like Myki (and many other systems, I'm sure my Oyster cost a fiver originally).

Since the cards cost a few dollars each, the operator (TfNSW) needs to ensure they actually get reused a significant number of times if they are going to hand the cards out effectively for free.

The $40 upfront is one way, abet a some what crude way to ensure reuse.
matthewg

If I understand you correctly, you are talking $16 for the minimum "throwaway" purchase.

With the arrangement at the airport stations that card could potentially be used for fare over $20, with no recourse back to the user.  I think that is an obvious loophole that would be too large to tolerate.

Someone who can't afford to pay in advance $40, for what in many cases is much more than $40 worth of travel on a cash fare basis, will never practically be able to afford to run a vehicle.
  matthewg Train Controller


With the arrangement at the airport stations that card could potentially be used for fare over $20, with no recourse back to the user. I think that is an obvious loophole that would be too large to tolerate.
donttellmywife


You can do that now. There is no 'hold' value on an Opal card. You can enter with the minimum train fare as the balance on your card. (something like $2.60). Then travel to the airport, send the card balance some thing like $15 negative and toss the card.

If you 'de-register' the card some weeks in advance and order a new one, when they try to follow it up, you could rightly say 'I gave the card to a mate, that's why I de-registered it. Not my problem'.

I doubt you could get away with more than once though.

This is one of the issues with the anonymous 'over the counter' cards that they will have to deal with. If such fraud becomes common, anonymous cards are going to need to have a $20 minimum balance to enter the train network, and that won't be a popular move at all.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
You can do that now. There is no 'hold' value on an Opal card. You can enter with the minimum train fare as the balance on your card. (something like $2.60). Then travel to the airport, send the card balance some thing like $15 negative and toss the card.

If you 'de-register' the card some weeks in advance and order a new one, when they try to follow it up, you could rightly say 'I gave the card to a mate, that's why I de-registered it. Not my problem'.

I doubt you could get away with more than once though.

This is one of the issues with the anonymous 'over the counter' cards that they will have to deal with. If such fraud becomes common, anonymous cards are going to need to have a $20 minimum balance to enter the train network, and that won't be a popular move at all.
matthewg

Sure, but the difference is that currently you are looking a potential net $15 deficit after at least $40 of revenue.  If over the counter cards were sold at for something like $16 ($10 of fare value plus $6 deposit) - the potential net deficit is the same but the upfront cost to the user to incur that deficit is much less.

I would be reasonably confident that the upfront payment (included fare value + deposit or purchase charge) for an over-the-counter Opal card will be comfortably more than the maximum fare that can be incurred.  You don't want to be in the situation where an occasional user rocks up to a station and buys an Opal card that can be used for a fare that is less than the equivalent single ticket cost.

Time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if that minimum over the counter purchase is $40.
  jcouch Assistant Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a commuter train
Readers got uncovered ladt night at Campbelltown, so officially enabled out here. Now if they could just do the busses !
  matthewg Train Controller

Readers got uncovered ladt night at Campbelltown, so officially enabled out here. Now if they could just do the busses !
jcouch

Campbelltown's 'go live' was on Friday the 28th. The readers should have had their test stickers removed last Thursday night/Friday morning.

On Friday morning my station had a guy in an Opal shirt handing out Opal pamphlets.
  matthewg Train Controller


I would be reasonably confident that the upfront payment (included fare value + deposit or purchase charge) for an over-the-counter Opal card will be comfortably more than the maximum fare that can be incurred. You don't want to be in the situation where an occasional user rocks up to a station and buys an Opal card that can be used for a fare that is less than the equivalent single ticket cost.

Time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if that minimum over the counter purchase is $40.
donttellmywife


While Myki isn't the best model to follow, they already have that problem. You can go to a Myki vending machine at Southern Cross put $10 in and get a card with $4 credit on it. Then use it to enter the country platforms and catch a train to Bendigo. The train fare is $27.60 (peak) /$19.32 (offpeak).

So you could potentially spend $10 to get a $30 train trip. To combat this issue the train conductors are supposed to check MyKi cards and demand payment/issue a fine to any one who's Myki doesn't have enough balance for their journey, but they don't always get through the whole train, particularly on the peak commuter services.
  jcouch Assistant Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a commuter train
Yeah had the handouts last Thursday but readers were still sticker covered last night at least on P3.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
While Myki isn't the best model to follow, they already have that problem. You can go to a Myki vending machine at Southern Cross put $10 in and get a card with $4 credit on it. Then use it to enter the country platforms and catch a train to Bendigo. The train fare is $27.60 (peak) /$19.32 (offpeak).

So you could potentially spend $10 to get a $30 train trip. To combat this issue the train conductors are supposed to check MyKi cards and demand payment/issue a fine to any one who's Myki doesn't have enough balance for their journey, but they don't always get through the whole train, particularly on the peak commuter services.
matthewg

One material difference is that there is no basis, with the ticketing rules in force in NSW at the moment (and for the foreseeable future), for a "conductor" on a NSW service to demand payment or issue a fine for a negative balance - as long as the passenger has successfully tapped on then they are [probably - *] complying with the fare rules.

Obviously, things may change (and would probably have to change, should Opal ever be extended to former CountryLink services, but I doubt that is a priority (and nor should it be)).

* - I say probably, because the Opal terms and conditions get a bit woolly here:

27. Payment for travel: In connection with your use of an Opal Card, you are responsible for the payment of all fares (including promotional fares, discounted fares or fares with caps) (Opal Fares)...

...

31. Sufficient funds: You must not use a reloadable Opal Card to pay the Opal Fare for a trip if the Opal Card Balance of the reloadable Opal Card is: (a) insufficient to pay for it; or (b) a negative balance.

32. Minimum and maximum balances: The maximum amount that can be maintained as an Opal Card Balance on any particular Opal Card varies depending on the type of Opal Card you have and will be published on the Opal Website. You must not commence a trip if (a) the Opal Card Balance is negative; or (b) the Opal Card Reader declines a tap on due to an insufficient balance.

...

34. Negative balances: If the Opal Card Balance of a reloadable Opal Card is insufficient to pay for the applicable Opal Fare or is a negative balance, you must add value to the Opal Card in an amount sufficient to pay for your trip before you use it again. You must pay any negative Opal Card Balance on a reloadable Opal Card and, when you add value to it, the added value will be first applied to reduce any negative balance.

So you can't use a card to pay "the Opal fare for a trip" if the balance is insufficient, but then we have lots of words about cards with negative balances (which presumably can only arise if someone tries to pay the Opal fare for a trip with an insufficient balance).
  jpd Locomotive Fireman

Location: Sydney
One material difference is that there is no basis, with the ticketing rules in force in NSW at the moment (and for the foreseeable future), for a "conductor" on a NSW service to demand payment or issue a fine for a negative balance - as long as the passenger has successfully tapped on then they are [probably - *] complying with the fare rules.
...
* - I say probably, because the Opal terms and conditions get a bit woolly here:
...
So you can't use a card to pay "the Opal fare for a trip" if the balance is insufficient, but then we have lots of words about cards with negative balances (which presumably can only arise if someone tries to pay the Opal fare for a trip with an insufficient balance).
donttellmywife

I don't see what's woolly - if you go negative you're breaking the rules, and it's also breaking the rules to keep trying to use it when it already has a negative balance. Whether anyone will force you to pay when you go negative in the first place is another question.
  gmanning1 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
I don't see what's woolly - if you go negative you're breaking the rules, and it's also breaking the rules to keep trying to use it when it already has a negative balance. Whether anyone will force you to pay when you go negative in the first place is another question.
jpd

All rules were mean't to be broken. This will just be a more electronic way of doing it. Can't see PSO/ticket officers becoming unemployed in the near future.
  Keith1954 Junior Train Controller

Location: Macarthur
As far as Negative balance goes it sounds a bit like Hong Kong.  If you are positive when you enter the station it's OK.  You can go negative at the end of the journey/trip.  But, it wont let you enter the station if you are negative.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I don't see what's woolly - if you go negative you're breaking the rules, and it's also breaking the rules to keep trying to use it when it already has a negative balance. Whether anyone will force you to pay when you go negative in the first place is another question.
jpd

Fair enough - let me rephrase that something along the lines of "the guidelines for use of the Opal card are a bit woolly" with respect to negative balances.  

In the website FAQ's and the "Summary of Opal Terms of Use" printed documentation, there is an implicit suggestion that it is ok to tap on if your card's balance is above the current minimum mode fare, regardless of the journey that you plan to take.  There isn't the explicit suggestion that, after successfully tapping on, if your current trip would take your card into negative balance territory that you may potentially be nailed for fare evasion.

(I don't have a problem with the way things have been set up - on the contrary it seems reasonably practical and pragmatic.  The above are just observations around detail.)

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