What is Opal?

Opal is Sydney's public transport smart card. Last updated September 2016.

Where Opal can be used

Where do you get an Opal card?

Note - all paper tickets will stop being sold from 1 August 2016 so you must use a Opal card to travel on all public transport  - either the full Opal card or single use Opal tickets (which are 20% more expensive than the normal Opal fare).

 Opal cards are available at many newsagents, convenience stores, supermarkets, and similar retailers (there are now 2,000+ sellers of Opal cards).   List of retailers   They are also available at the International and Domestic Airport stations and at certain Transport Shops (and at major train stations). Opal Top up machines are now at many major rail stations, bus and ferry terminals.

The minimum cost is $10 for adult cards, $5 for child cards (seniors and concession Opal cards must be ordered online). There is no fee for the card itself; all of the minimum $ top-up is available for travel on public transport. Subsequent top-ups can be made in $10 increments for adults and less for children/seniors.

Opal cards can also be ordered online at www.opal.com.au , but this is primarily targeted at Sydney residents as they will take a week to come and have a $40 minimum balance loaded on to the card. If when you are tagging off you don't get a 'tone', phone 13OPAL and they'll adjust your trip 24/7.

Where can I use Opal now?

  • All trains except long-distance booked services (NSW Trainlink Regional), note: peak / non peak costs are based on time the card is 'tapped'
  • All "Sydney Ferries" (government-sponsored ferries - excluding fully private routes)
  • All Sydney Buses
  • All private buses in the Sydney metro region
  • All light rail services
  • Newcastle Buses and the Stockton Ferry

Where can't Opal be used?

  • Buses in certain far outer suburbs such as Picton and Nowra.
  • Fast Ferry to/from Manly
  • Sydney hop on/off ferry (Captain Cook Cruises)
  • Sydney Explorer Hop on/off bus (the red double decker bus)
  • Katoomba Trolley Bus
  • Katoomba Explorer Hop on/off bus

What are the advantages of Opal fares for visitors?

  • No paper tickets sold from August 2016. There will be a single Opal ticket introduced but it will be 20% more expensive to use than the Opal card fare (therefore using a full Opal card is more practical and cheaper).
  • Maximum adult fare of $15 per day or $60 per week (Mon-Sun Opal travel week)
  • Sunday maximum of $2.50 per person (no family requirement) for unlimited travel)
  • Can be used at airport; $13.40 gate fee deducted (this is not included in any of the caps)
  • Child fares are half of the above except for airport gate fee which is $10.60 for children.
  • Pay as you go system; for most users the maximum of $60 per week probably won't be reached, resulting in less overall cost.
  • No need for any knowledge of the particular distance bands that make up the bus and train systems
  • Avoids queues at ferries and train stations (ferries on weekends can have long queues)
  • Weekly Travel Reward:  After 8 paid journeys in one week (Mon - Sun travel week), the rest of your travel has a 50% discount on fares.  (A journey consists of multiple trips taken within an hour of each other.)   This may result in substantially less cost depending on usage pattern.

What are some disadvantages of Opal fares for visitors?

  • Cards can only be topped up at news agencies/shops (and online) or Top Up machines - Look for the 'Opal' flag outside the shop
  • Card holder needs to keep an eye on balance and top-up when required
  • Balance can only be incremented in $10 units - meaning it may be difficult to load the exact amount required
  • Few facilities for top-ups at train stations (eftpos only top-up machines now available at some major stations). In 2016 year 350 top up machines will be added to rail stations and ferry wharves.
  • Refunds on unused balances are only obtainable by cheque by post (and you need an Australian bank account), unused balance on the card is valid for 9 years
  • All children must have an Opal card - benefit of purchasing only one child fare no longer applies
  • Weekly benefits only follow a Monday-Sunday travel week, meaning maximum fare for seven days encompassing a weekend could be somewhat higher than $60, for example if ferry or long distance train transport was used extensively. (In a contrived absolute worst case; $15 Thu-Sat, $2.50 Sun, $15 Mon-Wed, or $92.50 total.)

Should I use Opal?

With the paper tickets no longer sold, visitors must now use a Opal card (or the expensive single use Opal ticket). The only proviso is that tourists should manage the $ load onto the Opal card as refunds are difficult (you need local bank account to get a refund).


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