Opal smart card being rolled out to Illawarra

The Opal smart card system will be available on Illawarra trains by the end of the year.

This is despite media reports that implied the Opal roll out may not reach the Illawarra.

The Opal card is a smartcard that can be loaded with credit then used to travel on public buses, trains and ferries in NSW.

It was implemented at a range of stations in Sydney on Friday and a report in The Sydney Morning Herald said further Opal extensions were dependent on the success of last week's introduction.

However, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said all stations on the Sydney and intercity services - which includes the South Coast line - would have the Opal card introduced by the end of this year.

"We have always said this is a staged roll out and we will continue with this approach because it is the proven way to implement a new electronic ticketing system," Mrs Berejiklian said.

"The implementation of Opal is progressing well and the take up will increase as more train stations and bus routes become Opal active."

Mrs Berejiklian said there had been more than 55,000 Opal cards registered since it was first trialled on the Neutral Bay ferry route in December 2012.

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The Opal card promises free weekly travel after the cardholder makes eight "journeys" in a week.

However, a single "journey" can include multiple modes of transport.

For instance, if a cardholder got off a train and then boarded a bus within 60 minutes, that would count as one journey.

There have been concerns raised as to whether Illawarra commuters would see much benefit from the offer of free travel after eight journeys, especially if they only use trains to travel to and from work. To make the card more attractive to users, the government froze the fare price on Opal cards when it increased the cost of paper tickets in December.

This disadvantaged Illawarra commuters who, with the Opal system not yet rolled out, had no option but to buy the higher-priced paper tickets.

Mrs Berejiklian said there was no timeframe for the complete removal of paper tickets.

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