Sydney Opal travel costs
Thought I'd give a little review on using the Opal card in Sydney. For those who are not aware of it, this is a credit card sized RFID card that you can preload money onto and use it to get onto trains as well as some buses and ferries (only some as not all are linked in yet for various reasons).
The first part - getting a card - threw me a little. I went to a station, went up to the ticket counter where they had lots of "get an Opal card now" and "paper tickets are being phased out" signs, and was told they didn't sell the cards. I had to then find a newsagent to get a card (free) and hand over $20 to have that loaded on. After that small hiccup it wasn't bad. Made a few trips and it seemed at least as good as, and probably better than, the 'Myki' system in Melbourne. No where near as good as the likes of the Octopus card in Hong Kong that is so impressive, but ok. The fact that the card itself is free is a big plus for a tourist though.
As with Myki, you need to tap on & off on each journey (to avoid being charged for a whole day if you are only making a short trip). As with Myki, you get charged the cheapest fair applicable (eg you get off peak if travelling out of peak hours), and you need to tap *and hold* the card to the readers to ensure a proper reading. You can also register the card online, and top up that way. Lots of mobile apps available as well to view what your balance currently is. It also allows you to travel with a (small) negative balance.
I used it to also travel from the airport to the city. The cost of that was $16.70 - compared to a taxi which would normally be in the range of $60 or so. From a time perspective, the train trip itself was quick but overall it took me about the same amount of time to get to where I needed to go - due to extra walking as well as waiting for the train. If travelling on my own again I'd consider using it again, but if you are travelling with one or more other people, or lots of luggage, I'd go the taxi.
It cost me $3.30 to hop a train in the morning to get to my office, and another $3.30 on the way back. Except for one evening when I left the office late and it cost me $2.31 instead. Compared to about $30 for a taxi each way, a definite saving.
All in all, not bad and I recommend considering getting one if staying in Sydney for a few days.
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