Commuters catching the train from Thirroul station can’t buy an Opal card from a shop anywhere in the suburb, let alone the station itself.
Thirroul station is one of the so-called ‘‘hub’’ stations for Sydney commuters in the train timetable during the morning and evening peaks.
The aim is to limit the stops on the South Coast line for those trains, in order to reduce the travel time to Sydney.
On Monday, while Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced plans for pop-up kiosks on some Sydney stations, her department confirmed there were no plans to sell Opal cards on train stations.
This means commuters either buy them online or at an Opal retailer. The same procedure would apply for those wishing to manually top-up their card
For someone catching the train at Thirroul who hasn’t already bought a card online, they have a long trek ahead of them to a shop that sells them.
Incredibly, someone catching a train at Thirroul would need to travel to the BP service station in Woonona - two suburbs south - to buy an Opal card, according to the government’s Opal retailer website.
By road, that’s a 3.6-kilometre trip.
It’s a similar story at Helensburgh, another station popular with Sydney commuters. The closest retailer - Helensburgh Newsagency - is a 2.6-kilometre walk from the station.
For North Wollongong station, the closest retailer is 1.7 kilometres away in the mall, while Wollongong has it comparably easy with a 550-metre walk to the 7-11 near the hospital.
One of the longest distances is at Stanwell Park, where the nearest retailer is an astonishing seven kilometres away.
The stations with the shortest distance include Woonona at 110 metres, is Dapto at 210 metres and Albion Park Rail at 250 metres.
While not specifically mentioning the sale of Opal cards at stations, Mrs Berejiklian said the government would look at alternatives.
“Of course, we are continuing to look at ways to make Opal cards and top-ups available for customers as the roll out progresses,’’ Mrs Berejiklian said.
‘‘We are listening to customer feedback as we roll out the Opal card and we are very pleased at this early stage of the rollout, more than 440,000 Opal cards have been issued, with around 70 per cent of customers opting to use auto-top up so they never have to queue up again.’’
A spokeswoman from Transport for NSW said Opal cards were available ‘‘through multiple and convenient ways for customers’’ - including more than 1000 retailers across the state.
‘‘Most customers are choosing to link their Opal card to a bank account or credit card so it automatically tops up and they have to worry about loading money or queuing for a ticket again,’’ the spokeswoman said.
Keira MP and shadow minister for the Illawarra Ryan Park criticised the government’s decision not to sell Opal cards on train stations.
‘‘This is simply pathetic. Here we have a Government spending thousands of tax payer dollars to run advertisements for these new tickets yet they have failed to ensure the infrastructure is available to locals to purchase them,’’ Mr Park said.
‘‘Only a Liberal Government would introduce a train ticketing system that isn’t available to buy at the train station. The solution is simple, have tickets available at the stations where ticketing infrastructure has always been.’’
Stations on the South Coast line will also get pop-up kiosks selling Opal cards, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said.
On Monday, Mrs Berejiklian announced that Opal kiosks would be available at 28 Sydney stations.
Commuters can buy or top up an Opal card at the kiosks, with staff on hand to answer any questions.
These kiosks will be in place for certain days only until September 1, when some paper tickets will no longer be available for purchase.
No stations on the South Coast line were included in Monday's announcement.
However, Mrs Berejiklian said the kiosks would be in place soon.
"The highly visible pop-up kiosks, with their roaming staff interacting with customers on station concourses, are playing a key role in issuing Opal cards, and raising people's awareness about Opal and the coming retirement of some old paper tickets on 1 September," Mrs Berejiklian said.
"They'll be coming to NSW TrainLink stations soon."
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the time frame would be within a fortnight.
The kiosks will be in place on certain as-yet unnamed stations.
They would remain in place until September 1.
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