Hornsby State Liberal MP Matt Kean has welcomed the NSW Government's two recent announcements that new half-price Opal Cards will be made available to children, youth and seniors.
Mr Kean said the first stage of the launch will see Child/Youth Opal cards rolled out ahead of the next school holidays.
"The new green coloured Child/Youth Opal card works in the same easy and convenient way as the Adult Opal card, but it automatically calculates child fares at 50 percent of an adult fare," Mr Kean said.
"Children aged 4 to 16 and young people still at school can now carry their own Opal card and access all the benefits – including cheaper fares, daily travel caps and free travel anywhere on the public transport network after eight paid journeys a week.
"As well as half price fares, children get their daily travel cap halved, meaning they can travel on any mode of public transport with Opal for no more than $7.50 a day.
Mr Kean said the new Child/Youth Opal card will take centre stage at the Transport for NSW exhibition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this week.
"We're giving families the chance to get a Child/Youth or Adult card while they're at the Easter Show over the next few weeks, but they can also now jump online or call to register for a card," Mr Kean said.
The Child/Youth card is not a school travel pass - it's designed for paid non-school travel, weekends and school holidays. A separate Opal card for travel to and from school will be released later in the rollout.
There are two ways to register a Child/Youth Opal card: by creating a stand-alone profile for children or young people in their name; or the parents or guardians can link a Child/Youth card to their own Adult Opal card profile.
Parents can choose to set their children up with auto top up so their Opal card will always have enough value to get them home.
Meanwhile, the Opal card for senior and pensioner customers would be released in 2014, providing travel on all modes of public transport for no more than $2.50.
Mr Kean said he is pleased to confirm the Gold Opal Senior/Pensioner card will be available before the end of the year and fares for seniors and pensioners will remain capped at $2.50 for the day.
"I want seniors and pensioners to know that they will never pay more with a Gold Opal Senior/Pensioner card. They will have the same entitlements as the current $2.50 Pensioner Excursion Ticket," Mr Kean said.
To help prepare for the rollout of the Opal Senior/Pensioner card there will be some changes to the way customers buy their paper Pensioner Excursion Tickets on board State Transit buses across metropolitan Sydney.
"New technology is being installed on State Transit buses to get ready for the Opal card, and this means customers will soon no longer be able to buy their paper Pensioner Excursion Tickets on board the bus," Mr Kean said.
Customers will need to buy their Pensioner Excursion Tickets before they travel on buses from more than 1,600 ticket sellers across Sydney, including newsagencies,
7-11 convenience stores, Australia Post and selected Woolworths stores.
"The vast majority of seniors and pensioners already buy their tickets before they board the bus – so the change will only affect a small percentage of customers," Mr Kean said.
To ensure there is a smooth transition for customers, a letter and information brochure will be sent to more than 230,000 seniors to let them know about the Opal card and provide them with a list of the retailers nearby where they can buy their bus tickets.
Information will also be made available ahead of time on buses and the Transport for NSW website.
"Before the end of the year, all pensioners and seniors will be able to get their own Gold Opal card, which means they won't have to worry about buying a ticket or fumbling for coins ever again."
Customers who are eligible to use a $2.50 Pensioner Excursion Ticket will be able to use a Gold Opal Senior/Pensioner card. This includes any customer who holds one of the following:
• Seniors card issued by any Australian state or territory government; or
• Pensioner Concession card issued by the Australian Government; or
• NSW War Widows' card issued by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.