How UNSW students have responded to the roll out of the Concession Opal Card
The Opal Card finally arrived for tertiary students in February this year and students at UNSW were one of the first to be apply for the new Concession Opal Card. What has been heralded as a faster and cheaper ticketing method for students has left many asking questions.
With the yearly increases in rides on the 891 express bus at Central, overcrowding and long queues have become all too commonplace and an accepted reality of studying at UNSW. Students have found that Opal Card scanners are somewhat unreliable and without Opal Card scanners at the bus stops, delays in boarding and alighting from buses is becoming a growing issue.
Hundreds of students have signed a petition calling on Transport NSW to change the 891 and 895 bus service into a Tap On Only route with the installation of Opal Card scanners at the 891 bus stop at Central and the 895 bus stop at UNSW for passengers to Tap On before boarding. The ‘Tap On Only For UNSW Bus’ petition was started by Bachelor of Arts (Media & Politics) student, Roydon Ng as an attempt to ease traffic flows & reduce commuter alighting times.
Staying true to the UNSW motto of ‘Never Stand Still’, a group of students have formed the new ‘UNSW Opal Card Savings Society’ aka. OpalSoc in which weekly Opal Savings Sessions are held along with discussions of the best (legal) ways of reducing public transport costs. OpalSoc’s Savings Sessions involve running between Pyrmont Bay and The Starlight rail stops on Mondays with these journeys in order to activate the Opal Weekly Travel Reward. The Pyrmont Bay and The Star light rail stops are about 200 metres apart and an average session takes about half an hour to complete.
For the students involved with OpalSoc, the Weekly Travel Reward when activated on Monday results in free travel for the rest of the week once 8 journeys have been completed. OpalSoc founder and Bachelor of Science/Arts student Johann Blanco says that "I am immensely proud as the Founder of the UNSW Opal Card Savings Society that with the extra money in not only students' pockets but in fact the wider community, we now have extra funds to more easily make ends meet, afford luxuries that we once thought were out of our price range, lessen the amount of time we must save to afford our dream holiday or other major purchase, and perhaps now be able to take out the cute, awesome and amazing girl (or guy) we met on a really awesome date night."
Is the Opal Card actually cheaper for UNSW students? For the 891 and 895 bus, it costs $1.52 one way using a MyBus2 Travel10 in contrast to $1.75 using a Concession Opal Card. The overall opinion continues to be divided on whether the Concession Opal Card is best value for UNSW students as it depends also on the other public transport journeys taken throughout the week.
UNSW Bus Petition for Tap On Only for 891 UNSW & 895 Central Buses at the Bus Stop
UNSW Opal Card Savings Society
Transport NSW Bus Fares
Opal Card Bus Fares