Illawarra rail commuters could soon see a sharp rise in Opal fares, warned Wollongong MP Paul Scully.
In May 2016, Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the government would not be taking on the recommendation from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to raise Opal card fares.
Instead, Mr Constance said the fares would be frozen – a move widely believed to be aimed at helping the federal Liberal government’s re-election chances.
IPART recommended a maximum rise of 4.2 per cent each year from 2016.
The fare freeze is due to end in July this year and Mr Scully said there was no clarity on what the government will do with Opal fares.
If the government chose to implement the 2016 and 2017 annual rises, the weekly Travel Cap could rise by at least $5 a week.
Over the course of a year that could cost commuters around $200 extra – taking into account holidays from work.
“There’s an issue of uncertainty and commuters deserve to know,” Mr Scully said.
“If you have a freeze once or twice, you can’t just say ‘now it’s out of a politically sensitive period for us, we’ll just do the catch-up now’.”
Mr Constance was contacted for comment but did not respond.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman could not say whether fares will rise in July.
“The NSW Government has considered IPART’s independent recommendations against the need to keep fares affordable and we will announce any Opal fare changes with plenty of notice for customers,” she said.