Illawarra rail commuters will be forced to pay up to $720 more a year for train travel under the state government's new Opal card system.
The Opal card is a smartcard that can be loaded with credit then used to travel on public buses, trains and ferries in NSW.
The system is being rolled out and is expected to be available on all ferries by the end of this year.
It should be available on all buses and trains by the end of 2014.
While the system is yet to be introduced on the South Coast line, a review of the pricing system shows people commuting by train to Sydney will be slugged with fare increases of as much as $720.
The Opal card system does offer free travel once a user has completed eight trips in a week, but this benefit is unlikely to be helpful to those who only use the train to commute to and from Sydney for work.
A commuter travelling to Town Hall now pays $218 for a monthly ticket.
Under the Opal card, that commuter will have to pay an extra $22 for the same number of trips.
A quarterly ticket now costs $600, but the Opal card equivalent would be $720. For 12 months of travel on an Opal card between Wollongong and Sydney, it will cost $3120, which is $720 more than the current yearly paper-ticket price of $2400.
The Opal equivalent of weekly and fortnightly tickets will remain the same price. Single and return trips to the city would be cheaper.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said only 4 per cent of all tickets sold were periodicals, such as monthlies and annuals, but did not offer an explanation as to why the new Opal equivalent would be substantially more expensive than some of those periodicals.
The spokesman focused on the convenience of the Opal card, including the 30 per cent discount for travel outside train peak times.
He did not explain how this would benefit peak-hour commuters.
"With Opal you can automatically top up the value on your card and never have to queue for tickets ever again," the spokesman said.
"Weekly train-ticket customers have to wait in queues every week to purchase their tickets, while Opal customers just go straight to their station and hop on the train, or bus, or ferry or light rail - no queues, no waiting."