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Forgot to tap off with your Opal? This is what it’ll actually cost you

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If you live in New South Wales, you’ll know that nagging feeling. Did I remember to tap off with my Opal card this morning?

And if you know that you didn’t, the next question is, “How much did that just cost me?”

We found out.

The good news

For travellers travelling further than 65 kilometres, failing to tap off won’t incur any financial detriment, a Transport for NSW spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

For some customers a default fare will not mean paying more than they actually would have paid, for example a customer travelling by train from Central to Wollongong is due to pay a fare of $8.69.

This also applies for a Gold Opal card holder – or someone 60 and older – who will be charged a default fare of $2.50, which is also the daily cap for a Gold Opal card.

The bad news

Transport for NSW monitors whether passengers tap off so they can accurately apply benefits.

There’s a daily cap of $15.80 on Opal card payments, $63.20 a week and $2.70 on Sunday.

That means that if you don’t tap off, you might end up spending more because that fare hasn’t contributed to your weekly travel reward.

Got it. Now give me the numbers.

If you’re riding a bus: The default bus fare is $4.71.

If you’re riding a ferry: The default fare is $7.51.

If you’re riding the light rail: You’ll cop a default fare of $3.66.

If you’re riding the train: Your default fare is $8.69.

Opal card loophole

Travellers have found a loophole in the system; Opal cards can briefly hold a negative balance under the assumption that the negative amount will be clawed back when the user is forced to top up the next time they travel.

But there’s nothing stopping commuters from simply discarding their Opal cards with negative balances and picking up new ones, a report by the New South Wales Audit Office found last week.

While most Australian cities charge around $6 for their transport cards, Opal cards are completely free, meaning commuters can acquire a new card without any financial pain.

This loophole is costing the NSW government $7.8 million.

Travellers are most likely to do this when travelling to Sydney’s two airport stations. Here, commuters are slugged with an additional $14.30 “station access fee”. This fee is substantially higher than the minimum balance you need to tap on.

Good point, so how much do I need to tap on?

For adults travelling during peak periods, you’ll need $3.54 to tap on for train travel, $2.20 for bus travel, $6.01 for ferry travel and $2.20 for light rail.

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