Incredible shrinking farebox.
WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [tag] => opal-card ) [query_vars] => Array ( [tag] => opal-card [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [name] => [static] => [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [cat] => [tag_id] => 13357 [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array (  => 22371 ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array (  => opal-card ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [post_type] => [posts_per_page] => 14 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object ( [queries] => Array (  => Array ( [taxonomy] => category [terms] => Array (  => 22371 ) [field] => term_id [operator] => NOT IN [include_children] => )  => Array ( [taxonomy] => post_tag [terms] => Array (  => opal-card ) [field] => slug [operator] => IN [include_children] => 1 ) ) [relation] => AND [table_aliases:protected] => Array (  => wp_term_relationships ) [queried_terms] => Array ( [post_tag] => Array ( [terms] => Array (  => opal-card ) [field] => slug ) ) [primary_table] => wp_posts [primary_id_column] => ID ) [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 13357 [name] => opal-card [slug] => opal-card [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 13357 [taxonomy] => post_tag [description] => opal-card [parent] => 0 [count] => 17 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 13357 [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_posts.ID NOT IN ( SELECT object_id FROM wp_term_relationships WHERE term_taxonomy_id IN (22364) ) AND wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (13357) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 14 [posts] => Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23900 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-05-19 16:09:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-19 06:09:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23901" align="alignnone" width="300"] Sunday $2.50 all day fares stay. pic: JJ Harrison[/caption] Commuters in New South Wales lured onto public transport by the offer of fare free journeys after they make just 8 trips will now have their freebies torn-up after the state government back-flipped on the generous Opal Card giveaway scheme to try and claw back some of $150 million a year in free taps it’s chalked-up. The controversial reversal comes as millions of Sydney commuters – more and more of whom are turning to public transit to beat worsening traffic jams – have increasingly figured out how they can minimise their weekly public transport bill by clocking lots of cheap, short trips to trigger the free travel threshold. But is it a cheeky bait-and-switch ... or a necessary cost recovery measure? In a move that was never going to be popular, State Transport Minister Andrew Constance has attempted to temper commuter anger over the blatant cash grab this week by announcing that a new 50 per cent discount will now apply after 8 journeys instead of the fare free component, a measure he said “strikes a balance to allow a more sustainable system.” For commuters riding high on Opal freebies it's a 50 per cent price hike; for the government it's reducing a sugar coated subsidy it clearly thinks could get out of control. Either way, the free ride incentive is a victim of its own success. “Around 70 per cent of customers are not reaching the [fare free] reward, meaning a majority of customers aren’t receiving any benefit,” Mr Constance said. But the fact that 30 per cent of commuters were already travelling part fare free – a proportion that realistically would only grow over time – is certain to have triggered accounting alarm bells at both Transport and Treasury and fuelled fears the revenue expense would quickly snowball into a major financial blowout. The public’s sudden sharp withdrawal symptoms from free trips have not been helped by the Baird and O’Farrell governments having repeatedly trumpeted the ‘free after 8 trips’ component as a major benefit of switching from paper to smartcard ticketing – a success it has repeatedly banged over the head of the Labor Opposition which presided over a decade-long debacle trying to roll out Tcard which which burned through almost $1 billion and delivered nothing but litigation. In public transport, managing public expectations is an essential survival skill. Mr Constance has now assumed the role ‘good cop’ while the government’s in-house efficiency wonks and economic hard heads, the Independent and Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) get saddled playing grinch. IPART hasn't done itself many PR favours recently. The decision to end the Opal freebies closely followed the delivery of a stinging report from the controversial adjudicator that warned public transport prices in NSW were simply too cheap. It may not have been able to factor in the commuting public's bad memories of persistently late, sweaty, overcrowded and erratic public transport in over the past decade that prompted previous governments to throw candy to an angry public in the form of discounts and concessions. Those sweetners are now in the crosshairs. Specifically, IPART has urged the State Government to heavily prune popular concessions and discounts , including hiking the Gold Opal card holder fare for retirees from $2.50 to $3.60 per day, a move that instantly enraged influential pensioner groups. The price regulator also recommended that base fares be increased by 4.2 per cent annually and the weekday cap raised from $15 to $18, an idea that Mr Constance greeted with a more palatable cap price freeze until 2017. IPART also called for the scrapping of the $2.50 all day Sunday cap and its replacement with an overall weekend cap that started at $7.20 in 2016-17 rising to $8.00 in 2018-19. While Mr Constance also swiftly rejected those electorally toxic proposals, IPART’s apparent fixation with pricing perfection on what remains a highly challenged and historically neglected transport network is understood to have been greeted with exasperation in some parts of the NSW Coalition. One element of IPART’s report known to have made politicians wince is the observation that the heavily discounted Sunday $2.50 fare was actively eroding Saturday public transport patronage. One issue is that scenario doesn’t take into account the large amounts of remedial rail trackwork now being performed over weekends that forces people onto much slower busses and into cars. The so-called ‘trackwork effect’ is also being blamed for increased road traffic densities on Saturdays to weekday peak levels, or worse, making commuting slow and frustrating at best. People choosing to enjoy ferries, one of Sydney’s more languid transport modes, on Sundays also copped a serve in the IPART report. “The current $2.50 Sunday cap appears to have stimulated substantial additional public transport use on Sundays, particularly on ferries,” the IPART report said, before warning that “for the Manly, Parramatta River and Taronga Zoo routes, the 2015 Sunday peak also exceeded the 2011 weekday peaks.” More people going to the zoo on ferry on a Sunday than during the working week. Who could have predicted pricing signals could produce such a systemic distortion? [post_title] => Is cutting Opal free trips a public transport bait and switch? [post_excerpt] => Incredible shrinking farebox. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23900 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-19 17:00:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-19 07:00:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23900 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23654 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-04-18 21:51:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-18 11:51:13 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23655" align="alignnone" width="300"] Who needs tickets anyway? pic: MasterCard[/caption] Sydney will follow London’s lead and let commuters use their everyday ‘tap-and-go’ credit and debit cards at public transport ticket barriers instead of using the popular Opal Card, a move that will provide bonanza for banks and could save the government millions. The radical push to remove the need for proprietary tickets, first revealed by Government News in November 2015, was publicly confirmed in Sydney by New South Wales transport Minister Andrew Constance at the Future Transport Summit on Monday and kicks off in 2017. Although officially still billed as a trial, the flip to use bank-issued contactless smartcards – or smartphones that have NFC (near field communications) chips built into them to them – is likely to revolutionise easy access to public transport in Sydney if London’s experience is anything to go by. If successful, it will also place substantial pressure on other states to bring their public transit ticketing systems into line as the ticket-free experience spreads across intercity domestic travellers and international tourists. “Only a few major mass transit systems, similar in scale to Sydney’s have introduced contactless payments,” Mr Constance said. “London’s Oyster card system is a well-known example, where they only finalised their rollout in late 2014.” Sydney’s Opal system is of course largely cloned from London’s Oyster card, right down to close input from Transport for London which uses largely the same ticket reader equipment from Cubic Transportation Systems has systems of varying age also embedded in New York (MetroCard), Los Angeles and Chicago as well as other cities. In Australia, Cubic also underpins the Brisbane Go Card system and the company also has its sights set on the upgrade of Melbourne’s Myki ticket that is now in the market. Fortuitously, Transport for London’s Director of Customer Experience and de-ticketing guru Shashi Verma was on-hand to share London’s lessons with Sydney and Australia yesterday, frankly telling Future Transport Summit that his organisation had needed to educate banks about the opportunities for them around transport ticketing. Asked what kind of fees the banks were likely to reap from transit from a switch to cards they issued, Mr Verma said banks would collect fees on transactions irrespective of whether operators issued tickets or not. What changed by enabling everyday payment cards to work direct at the ticket gate was that the transit operators no longer had to make special transport money just to work on their system. While those savings had been around £100 million, enabling mainstream contactless payment had also pushed-up fare revenue Mr Verma said. Put simply, the easier it is for people to pay, the more paid. Card schemes, which have been using the example of Transport for London to showcase how their products can be innovated for public good were, naturally, ecstatic that Sydney is following London. “MasterCard is extremely excited that the NSW Government has announced they will begin a customer trial of debit and credit card contactless payments for travelling on public transport,” the company said in a statement. “London in particular has paved the way for contactless payment use in transit. Contactless debit and credit card payments were trialled and launched on London Buses in December 2012 and expanded across the city’s network in 2014. To date, more than 350 million rides have been made using contactless technology with over one million journeys made each day. “At MasterCard we see efficient urban mobility, how people get around cities in a simple and seamless way, as key to enabling citizens and visitors to go about their lives with ease, and enabling businesses to innovate and grow. Sydney, a business and tourist hotspot is the perfect city to lead the charge for transit contactless technology in Australia. This will also make Sydney more appealing to international visitors and help boost local tourism.” And while there’s no interest like self-interest, they have a point. As anyone who has used London’s system will tell you, there is more than a little comfort in knowing that you won’t be stuck in a queue trying to top-up or leaving money behind on a card when you go. [post_title] => Opal to take credit & debit tap cards at ticket gates by 2017 [post_excerpt] => Sydney to follow London’s great de-ticketing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23654 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-04-19 10:01:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-04-19 00:01:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23654 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23650 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-04-18 19:26:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-18 09:26:24 [post_content] => Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has very publicly put the boot into how online giant Uber treats it drivers, using a joint question and answer session with New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance to warn of the danger of new transport oligopolies. “I do have concerns about Uber becoming a monopoly,” Wozniak said. “Uber will push their workforce down to the absolute lowest minimum wage that they can get away with. That’s how I think of Uber: not very nice thoughts.” The strong words came at the NSW Government organised Future Transport Summit where officials, planners, industry and the occasional technology demigod are trying to thrash out a rough vision of how the next 20 years of transit will look like – minus the jetpacks. Woz’s view is one senior Australian politicians and public servants are certain to be taking notice of as they try to manage the effects and consequences of the online juggernaut renowned for attacking regulators both in public and behind closed doors. So far Uber has enjoyed a spot of sunshine after the NSW government moved to provide it and similar services some regulatory legitimacy rather than having transport authorities chase down and fine its drivers -- but Uber’s honeymoon as a hip challenger brand could be as short lived as a wait for one of its cars. Mr Wozniak said that he “like a lot of people have some distrust of Uber and how their drivers don’t really realise necessarily at first that they aren’t really making much money.” “I want to use Lyft instead of Uber when I can now,” Wozniak said, conspicuously namedropping one of Uber’s emerging rivals. A big concern for regulators, governments and passenger like Woz is that as so-called sharing economy platforms rapidly scale-up to disintermediate existing players – like licensed taxi services or hotels in the case of Airbnb – the volume of market share they capture can stifle competition. “It is a danger when any group becomes a very powerful monopoly because they can take advantage and use it in bad ways,” Wozniak said. “I would rather there would be a lot of competitive forces, I’d like there to be about four or five choices anywhere you go.” Buckled-up beside Wozniak, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance was up for some political ride sharing of his own and certainly wasn’t about to argue for less competition. “We want Lyft here, we want these other products here,” Constance said. “We want the taxi industry to become innovative and drive competition. The whole thinking around transport is going to change.” With speculation rampant about what Uber will morph into should driverless cars become a reality sooner rather than later, Constance was pinged with a logical question as to whether self-driving will actually ease or worsen congestion given a finite amount of road space. As the minister for trains, busses rather than roads (that’s Duncan Gay) the answer won’t be what car dealers want to hear. “This is why I’m building new train networks,” Constance quipped. “I want people in trains not in cars.” Wozniak also had some firm advice for governments and security agencies seeking a back door into encryption technologies that protect devices like the iPhone in the wake of the stoush between Apple and the FBI. “I agree with Apple’s side in the case in the US with the FBI. I’ve been a long-time supporter of civil liberties and civil rights,” Wozniak said. “In this case Apple actually said ‘look, you are a consumer, we make you a good product and we’re guaranteeing it’s so well protected even we cannot get at your data’… I’ve never really heard a company say that.” Wozniak said he believed Apple had been “truthful and honest” in its stand that the company itself could not access the data the FBI had wanted. “I admire that so much and then it’s so shocking that government comes in and says ‘no, we have to tell you [that] you cannot make your product secure’ when cybersecurity is so important to people,” Wozniak said. “Where we can get it [cybersecurity], let’s keep it.” “This case was just [a] flat footed attempt for the government to try and get in and make sure [that] ‘every iPhone ever we can get into’. I don’t believe that’s right … so I’m against it.” [post_title] => Steve Wozniak wants monopoly handbrake put on Uber [post_excerpt] => Give me a Lyft says NSW Transport Minister Constance. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => steve-wozniak-wants-monopoly-handbrake-put-on-uber [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-04-19 10:00:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-04-19 00:00:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23650 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23404 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-03-21 19:53:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-21 08:53:09 [post_content] => Thousands of enterprising Sydney commuters chalking-up $2 million a year in ‘free’ Opal trip value on Transport for NSW’s equivalent to frequent flyer points are about to be derailed and un-rewarded, all thanks to changes to the popular smartcard ticket that hit Monday. After more than a year of successfully milking a free trips incentive to extract Opal network-wide travel for as little $18 a week, commuters participating in so-called ‘Opal-running’ have been warned a crackdown on the short-hop journeys they use to game the free travel reward will now force them to travel at least twice as much before they make their quota. The ‘Weekly Travel Reward’ had been intended to encourage commuters into using public transport more frequently, especially those travelling greater distances who might otherwise find driving cheaper than regularly using public transport. It gives Opal card commuters free travel after eight paid journeys, largely based on the assumption that commuters heading to and from work will space out their travel and pay for the vast majority of what they use. But the pursuit of the free transit prize among eager commuters on Mondays quickly escalated into something between a sport and a cult among inner city passengers, who have increasingly clocking-up extra journeys wherever possible to reach the free fare target, especially on the Light Rail within the CBD. If you travel at full peak fare from the outer suburbs, it makes a lot of financial sense to chalk-up lots of the cheapest short journeys first day of the week and then travel free. 'Cheating' still not illegal Although not illegal, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has accused those milking the fare system of ripping off other commuters and the government by “running, cycling, driving or even roller-skating between train stations or light rail stops to tap on and off.” Put another way, the NSW government is primarily worried about the financial hit and wider inequity that Opal fare gamers are apparently creating, given it can’t actually prosecute anyone for jumping on a tram or train with a valid ticket. “It’s unfair that customers doing the right thing and paying to actually use transport are being cheated by people who are using their own or other people’s cards to artificially inflate their journeys. Some are even using the practice as a business model to earn money,” Mr Constance said. However the Labor Opposition’s Shadow Transport Minister, Jodi McKay isn’t impressed by the Opal crackdown and has accused the Baird Government of sending conflicting signals to commuters. Ms McKay said that in 2014, despite the government being alerted to the problem, then Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian had encouraged commuters to game the system. “They have known about this for a very long time and are only now doing something about it,” Ms McKay said. “It is a complete contradiction – one Transport Minister saying ‘hey beat the system’ and then the next one saying ‘no, don’t … and we are going to make it harder.” Ms McKay also questioned why Mr Constance had asked for more time for the Government to respond to an Independent and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) analysis of public transport fares which she said could see some commuters slugged as much as $950 extra a year. “They know how unpopular this whole thing is, but have given no explanation for the delay,” Ms McKay said. Rorting epicenter The epicenter of the present fare rorting problem appears to be in downtown Haymarket and Pyrmont where Light Rail stops are just a few hundred metres apart, making it easily time effective to clock-up Opal taps by walking between stops. Businesses with offices serviced by the Star City Casino stop include Google, Fairfax Media, Accenture and Channel 7. Transport sources have told Government News Transport for NSW could disable the Opal readers at light rail stops until just before a tram arrives, but this would then increase ‘dwell times’ and slow down the service, especially during peak times. Government News has also observed some passengers even opportunistically tapping-off on one reader and then tapping back on during the same journey in an effort to accrue journeys, although it’s unclear how effective this actually is. To back his case for the crackdown Mr Constance on Monday released statistics that showed a whopping 63,636 journeys on the light rail made between Star City Casino and Pyrmont Bay on Mondays compared to just 1469 journeys on Wednesday between 1st February and 6th March this year. Light rail fans aren’t the only fanatical group exploiting Opal’s incentives. Mr Constance’s statistics reveal trips between the Inner West heavy rail stops of Erskinville and Macdonaldtown chalked-up 6465 journeys on Mondays in the same period, an impressive piece of footwork considering the stations – which are only 470 metres apart – are on completely different rail lines. Stops are Tops: Monday hotpsots for serial Opal abusers (Source: Transport for NSW)
|Pyrmont Bay to Star City stops & back (300m apart)||63,636||8,198||1,469||313||149||110||481|
|Paddy’s Market to Capital Square stops & back (280m apart)||30,285||9,408||2,434||647||238||193||714|
|Macdonaldtown to Erskineville stations & back (470m apart)||6,465||1,142||178||51||14||6||6|
Sydney to follow London’s great de-ticketing.
Give me a Lyft says NSW Transport Minister Constance.
Weekly Travel Reward crackdown
The third economy could lose billions.
Pensioners railroaded away from cash and paper
NSW is investing heavily in renewing rail.
Transport Minister Constance reveals CBD trials to combat congestion.
iPhone covers that fit smartcard tickets sell like hotcakes.
Suburban services drive around city centric congestion.
Vow to keep commitments on track.
Opal top up machines online from 2015.
Travellers tagged-off by maximum default