The Baird Government is picking on pensioners and seniors by leaving them off the list of travellers eligible for discounted single use train fares.
As paper tickets disappear in place of the Opal Card, it has emerged that pensioners and seniors wanting to travel from August 1 will be forced to sign up to a Gold Opal card or face a $550 fine.
Paper-based single use Opal cards are available for adults – which is at least 20 per cent more expensive than the Opal fare - and for children but concession fares will no longer be available for seniors and pensioners.
In order to qualify for a discount pensioners and seniors are forced to sign up for a Gold Opal card, by going online or ringing Transport for NSW and ordering one which can take up to ten days to arrive in the post.
However, for those who have forgotten their Gold Opal card the only option is for them to pay the adult fare or face a $550 fine.
In a leaked memo - revealed by the NSW Opposition last week - Transport managers asked staff to show some “empathy” to infrequent travellers and pensioners if they didn’t have an Opal card and needed to travel. However, the same memo went on to say that there will be “no grace period for this change so if customers are stopped Transport Officers may issue a fine from 1 August”.
NSW Labor is calling on the Government to do two things:
Extend the period of grace for seniors and pensioners; and
Introduce discounted single use opal tickets for seniors and pensioners to be available at ticket machines and at stations.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Ageing Sophie Cotsis
“The Baird Government is forcing pensioners to use the Gold Opal Card, even though it could easily sell a $2.50 single use ticket.
“When it comes to our public transport system, pensioners and seniors are being left disadvantaged. The Government is making it harder for seniors and pensioners to travel in NSW.
“This means that pensioners who use public transport infrequently or who leave their Gold Opal Card at home will be forced to pay a higher price for a single use ticket. It’s not fair.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport Jodi McKay
“It takes up to ten days to receive a concession Opal Card, which is unacceptable given the fines Seniors face if they don't have one from today. They should not be punished because of the government's ineptitude.”