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Introducing OPAL Card

Sydney / New South Wales Transport Discussion

Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby moa999 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:17 pm

Saw this reference on another forum
https://www.opal.com.au/en/opal-fares/M ... rney_time/

Is this page new??

Max train journey times typically 5, but can be up to 7

Light rail is only 3.

And bus 4, with some implied transfer logic
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:35 pm

I dont recall having seen that before
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:44 pm

Fleet Lists wrote:The Opal website has not yet been updated to include the extension of this facility.

The Opal website has now also been updated to reflect of the extension of the contactless facility.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boxythingy » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:00 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but I can use my American Express to pay for a one way adult fare on Ferries and Light Rail, but I can't use the same card to top up my Opal card at a top up machine?

Also, why is the Government allowing certain retail top up points to do whatever they can to charge you extra $$$ on top of your top up?

This undermines public services offered by the Government. Last time I read on the news, the Public Transport system in Sydney has not yet been privatised?

In this case, those retailers who can't afford to top up cards without charging customers an additional pittance, should be excluded eligibility from becoming a retail top up point.

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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:41 pm

boxythingy wrote:Correct me if I am wrong, but I can use my American Express to pay for a one way adult fare on Ferries and Light Rail, but I can't use the same card to top up my Opal card at a top up machine?

I wouldn't be utterly surprised if Amex becomes available in short order on the machines but it all comes down to the rate Amex is prepared to accept and the rate the Government is willing to pay. We don't know whether Amex is getting a higher rate to participate in contactless or whether they are prepared to accept the same rate as their competitors and whether that same deal also applies to the other channels including top up machines. If there is a differing rate depending on terminal type the point will be moot when contactless is fully rolled out,

Also, why is the Government allowing certain retail top up points to do whatever they can to charge you extra $$$ on top of your top up?

These outlets operate on thin margins and if the Government is not going to cover the added costs of credit and EFTPOS transactions they would not participate. As we know, the Government would rather that private enterprise sell top-ups than have union workers employed for the task. Usually, these fees apply to any purchases at the outlet. I'm not sure about the legality of only imposing them for Opal top-ups. Anyway, its always been that way Opal doesn't change anything in that respect it just provided more business. Incidentally, small business face higher merchant fees than the government or transit providers.

You protest too much. If you don't like it choose an alternative. Your wrath is better directed at the government at having rip off pricing on contactless which reduces their incentive to make contactless a decent alternative to Opal which is sorely needed by short stay visitors. I wouldn't mind so much if they had machines which dispensed reloadable Opal cards and provided convenient, or even practical for overseas visitors, refund facilities.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:06 pm

Fleet Lists quoting https://transportnsw.info/news/2018/con ... ey-ferries wrote:Contactless payments available on light rail and Sydney Ferries
...


I loved this bit of spin:
You will be charged the same as an Adult Opal single trip ticket. If you are entitled to concession fares, you should travel with a Child/Youth, Concession or Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card to avoid paying a higher fare.

Rather than simply writing: You should travel with a Opal Card to avoid paying the higher single trip ticket fare.

You can only use your card or device to tap on for one fare per trip. You cannot pass the card back to someone else to pay a second fare.

I wonder if the fact that Opal Pay allows pass-backs will confuse people?

I'm curious if they have transfers working for this at least on Ferries as they reportedly work for single trip tickets.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:58 pm

jpp42 wrote:I wonder if the fact that this is rolled out to ferries and light rail at the same time, is another side effect of the light rail poles being configured with the same hardware and basic programming as ferry wharf poles. (Not sure if it's still the case, but for a while when the transport officers scanned your card on light rail, it would show as "Ferry" on their readers.)

Is the distance metric for light rail straight-line or track distance? I agree there appears to be entanglement between Ferry and Light rail. It was pointed out sometime ago that the mode value encoded for light rail on Opal cards was the same as that for ferries which explains your observation. My (untested) assumption is that it was necessary to overload the value because of insufficient code space which would otherwise be undesirable as it complicates processing. The readers would need to distinguish between Ferry and Light rail stops based on location for the purposes of fare calculation. I assume this is still the case because the Opal transfer discount is not available for transfers between (sydney) ferries and light rail. I assume this will persist at least until the CSELR rollout given the promises of fare integration made for that mode well before the IPART review was considered. My original expectation was that the CSELR and possibly also the IWLR will be treated by Opal as buses but my expectations are somewhat diminished post the IPART Opal changes.

Given that contactless requires new code to be rolled out to readers and the backend would not have the same space contraints there would no longer be any need for the two systems to remain entangled. My guess is that they have sufficient confidence from the Manly trial to extend it to light rail as well as the rest of the ferry network - they could simply have different firmware levels in the light rail and ferry readers if they wished to restrict it to ferries only.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby tonyp » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:18 pm

I hope this overseas coverage of contactless ticketing in Sydney is visible, as I subscribe to it. Hopefully it is.

https://www.intelligenttransport.com/tr ... ds-sydney/
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby moa999 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:20 pm

I think the LR fare integration will be consigned to the dustbin of former transport Ministers.

Has anyone done a LR-F transfer at Pyrmont?
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Jurassic_Joke » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:24 am

Interestingly using a Payment Card (Contactless), I only just noticed it actually triggers the deeper sounding Concession Fare "Ding" instead of the usual Adult shrill. So now we can't use it anymore to identify "Non-adult / entitled-to-no-concessions / non-employee" travellers anymore.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boronia » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:13 am

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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:24 am

tonyp wrote:I hope this overseas coverage of contactless ticketing in Sydney is visible, as I subscribe to it. Hopefully it is.
https://www.intelligenttransport.com/tr ... ds-sydney/

Looks like an article based on a press release probably one from Cubic.
Article linked above wrote:The trial has demonstrated that the technology Cubic pioneered with Transport for London can be adapted to fit Australia’s environmental and regulatory conditions.

“The trial has been a very important test for this complex new technology and we are delighted that contactless will now be expanded further,”

What a load of crap. I'll accept that once they apply all the Opal fare rules onto contactless.

One of the most informative papers I've read on contactless was a now somewhat dated whitepaper written for Visa by Mike Hendry: The future of ticketing: Paying for public transport journeys using Visa cards in the 21st century. Visa Inc, January 2013.. TfL are relatively open about their project, far more open than TfNSW and a wealth of papers about the project can be found on their web site. One of the main motivations for contactless is reducing issuing costs. This is not stated motivation of TfNSW, unfortunately quite the opposite has been stated so far. It may be that contactless will not replace Opal as TfNSW and the minister has stated but TfL also once stated this. Later on it became clear that this earlier denial was merely a semantic game: once all the current Oyster functionality can be supported by contactless cards they will simply reuse the brand with contactless cards. Contactless aka an account based system doesn't stop them issuing their own cards but they will be based on EMV standards rather being stored value cards. TfL however remain in the unfortunate position of having to also support ITSO cards.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:31 am

There might be another Opal coding quirk like light rail and ferries being recorded as the same mode on the card with Opal card acceptance on the Dee Why Park & Ride: Manly Ferry tap ons are not eligible to receive the free parking benefit.

Information on the format of unencrypted data on Opal cards can be found in the Metrodroid Wiki. The definitive reference is the program source code.

If anyone with Metrodroid encounters a card recently used to exit the Dee Why cark park please report any relevant information extracted by Metrodroid.

There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason for Opal to reuse the same mode code point for light rail and ferries, It does leave room for another mode code point without extending the field size into another currently unused bit position.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby GazzaOak » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:44 am

We'll don't go into stores which charge extra for opal cards....
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby jpp42 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:34 am

Passenger 57 wrote:There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason for Opal to reuse the same mode code point for light rail and ferries, It does leave room for another mode code point without extending the field size into another currently unused bit position.


One point that hasn't been mentioned, is that the initial tender for Opal arranged by Labor, and thus the fundamental design of the system, didn't include Light Rail at all. Light rail was only brought under state control by the Libs afterwards, and Opal was bolted on. Because the conditions at light rail stops are similar to ferry wharves (no existing reliable network to piggyback on), I could see how it might have made sense to piggyback on the ferry wharf design; this might apply to the programming as well.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:06 am

It's a reasonable theory but its not necessary to reuse the same code point to allow code reuse. Using the same code point for different modes unnecessarily complicates the implementation for both modes so perhaps there was some other constraint. Can some Opal system component only deal with 3 modes? Maybe the handheld hardware readers? Could the contract be priced per mode? Does this also explain the transfer only at CQ restriction? You might have found some bugs testing transfers between LR and Ferries back in the day when you used to do that sort of thing. It's probably still not a very well tested aspect of the system.

Alternatively, maybe some aspect of the ferry implementation allows different fare bands to be applied to different routes, BTW, do we know definitely that LR doesn't use track distance as its metric?
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby boronia » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:17 am

The only feasible transfer point between LR and ferry at the moment would be at Pyrmont Bay. I wonder if many people actually do it?

Hasn't it been indicated that the CSET will be "bus equivalent" for Opal?
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:10 pm

boronia wrote:The only feasible transfer point between LR and ferry at the moment would be at Pyrmont Bay. I wonder if many people actually do it?

That's certainly the most convenient place but any point on the LR reached within the transfer window will suffice.
Hasn't it been indicated that the CSET will be "bus equivalent" for Opal?

Something like that, but that was before the problem of fare integration was "solved". As moa999 pointed out, Opal promises become null and void on replacement of ministers.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby jpp42 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:26 am

Regarding the contactless payments, I tried this out on light rail and noticed that both tap-on and tap-off, the only wording when the card is accepted is "Payment Card OK" without any indication of whether it's a tap-on or off , or the fare charged. I do understand the limitations of the system that result in this, but it doesn't seem very user friendly. Does anyone know how this is handled in London?

I also happened to have an expired credit card in my wallet, which I tried tapping on and it was correctly rejected for being expired.

Interestingly at my tap off at Convention, there were authorised officers checking that everyone was validly tapping off. Surprisingly, they did not stop me and accepted the "Payment Card OK" readout. I sort of expected they would not have been properly trained on a new product and I might have to argue the point. However these were the Transdev authorised officers, not TfNSW Transit Officers, so maybe Transdev actually trains them properly.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Jurassic_Joke » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:14 pm

Yeah, you make a good point. When I tried it out for fun at Central (how I found out about the different sound), I reversed my tap on, except the card reader doesn’t actually say “tap on reversed” but instead Payment Card OK again. Wasn’t feeling too at ease there, hope they change it up soon
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby moa999 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:22 pm

Exactly how it works in London.
The opal system can't write anything to the card so all it can do is record that card xxxx tapped at a particular time.

The backend then links these as a tap on/off process. This is generally done overnight/end of week in a batch to allow any slow/offline/mobile transactions to be correctly processed.

Much easier to catch errors with a proper opal card and immediate feedback
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Passenger 57 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:51 pm

jpp42 wrote:Regarding the contactless payments, I tried this out on light rail and noticed that both tap-on and tap-off, the only wording when the card is accepted is "Payment Card OK" without any indication of whether it's a tap-on or off , or the fare charged. I do understand the limitations of the system that result in this, but it doesn't seem very user friendly. Does anyone know how this is handled in London?

AFAIK, the readers don't talk to the back end in real time. They simply capture card details and do an off-line authorisation. The authorisation is used as proof of legitimacy of the card since it uses secrets known only to the card and the issuing bank. The value of the authorisation (possibly $0) is immaterial as the actual fare will be billed later as a card not present transaction. I'm not sure what happens with the authorisation captured from the card if anything. I would guess they are either stored by the TfNSW backend case of dispute or there is some special arrangement with the acquirer/scheme to upload these authorisations in advance of a dispute and verify them with issuers.

Without talking to the backend in real time, I don't know how much scope there is for meaningful messages. Given the limitations of Opal contactless vs. Oyster contactless, Opal might have a bit more scope for friendliness but the Manly Ferry gates are the only example I can think of.

It should be possible to print a meaningful message for tap off reversals by storing a hash of card details at station for the reversal period.

I also happened to have an expired credit card in my wallet, which I tried tapping on and it was correctly rejected for being expired.

That threw me for a moment until I remembered that your card's expiry date would be stored in the chip the same as it is on the mag stripe. If you have an Android smartphone with NFC you can read what data is supplied by the card,

If you had used a cancelled card, it would have been accepted until all the blacklist at the reader was updated. The London backend apparently does an authorisation (pre-auth?) for every new card. Reading the Opal FAQ it sounds like we do something similar.

Interestingly at my tap off at Convention, there were authorised officers checking that everyone was validly tapping off. Surprisingly, they did not stop me and accepted the "Payment Card OK" readout. I sort of expected they would not have been properly trained on a new product and I might have to argue the point. However these were the Transdev authorised officers, not TfNSW Transit Officers, so maybe Transdev actually trains them properly.

I'd be interested to know whether they are bothering to scan payment cards at this time and capturing card details. Little point to do that at readers unless you want to check people have tapped-on. I would guess the hardware readers are not designed for capturing payment card details so this may only be possible if revenuers are equipped with smartphones.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Newcastle Flyer » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:24 pm

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/52981 ... rk/?cs=305

What does he mean Opal data doesn't lie? IT does and has. I've must have over 700 errors by now.

Opal card data released by the NSW Government of Newcastle’s bus network shows a two per cent decrease in patronage in a yearly comparison of the month of February.

Patronage via Opal cards decreased from 402,000 in 2017 to 394,000 in 2018, a reduction of 8,000 trips.

The release of the figures comes after a protest at Hamilton on Sunday where Labor MPs demanded an independent review into the bus network changes.

Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp said on Wednesday the government was “fudging figures” by “adding in a range of different trip types” to the figures released by Keolis Downer last month which showed a 4.9 per cent rise in January patronage compared to 2017.

“The Opal data doesn’t lie,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“Newcastle commuters are walking away from a bus system that no longer services their needs.”

A Transport for NSW Spokesperson said the data did not account for all bus travel.

“It does not give a true indication of the number of people catching the bus in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, given it excludes concession entitlements cards, integrated ticketing and fare-free travel,” the spokesperson said.

“When considering all bus ticket types, patronage in Newcastle is up by nine per cent, with 402,501 trips in February 2017 compared to 432,260 for February 2018.”
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby jpp42 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:43 pm

Passenger 57 wrote:
jpp42 wrote:Regarding the contactless payments, I tried this out on light rail and noticed that both tap-on and tap-off, the only wording when the card is accepted is "Payment Card OK" without any indication of whether it's a tap-on or off , or the fare charged. I do understand the limitations of the system that result in this, but it doesn't seem very user friendly. Does anyone know how this is handled in London?

AFAIK, the readers don't talk to the back end in real time. They simply capture card details and do an off-line authorisation. The authorisation is used as proof of legitimacy of the card since it uses secrets known only to the card and the issuing bank. The value of the authorisation (possibly $0) is immaterial as the actual fare will be billed later as a card not present transaction. I'm not sure what happens with the authorisation captured from the card if anything. I would guess they are either stored by the TfNSW backend case of dispute or there is some special arrangement with the acquirer/scheme to upload these authorisations in advance of a dispute and verify them with issuers.

Without talking to the backend in real time, I don't know how much scope there is for meaningful messages. Given the limitations of Opal contactless vs. Oyster contactless, Opal might have a bit more scope for friendliness but the Manly Ferry gates are the only example I can think of.


I'm aware of 100% of that. That's why I wrote, "I do understand the limitations of the system that result in this." I was trying to avoid a writing a treatise. I just wanted to point out that the situation will probably be perceived as customer unfriendly. Maybe something like "transaction recorded" would be helpful to indicate that the tap was recorded for later reconciliation? Or maybe something indicating the maximum possible fare? I don't know - it just seems odd that there's no real indication how much you're being charged.

I'd be interested to know whether they are bothering to scan payment cards at this time and capturing card details. Little point to do that at readers unless you want to check people have tapped-on. I would guess the hardware readers are not designed for capturing payment card details so this may only be possible if revenuers are equipped with smartphones.


It was pointed out on Whirlpool that in London, the fine can be issued after the fact if they calculate that you aren't actually tapped on when the card was scanned by the authorised officer's reader.

However, it should be noted that in the case where transit officers are simply monitoring card taps at poles or barriers (as the Transdev light rail officers at Convention were doing), a would-be fare evader can simply tap their card at this point to act like they are a fare-paying passenger, even though they may not have previously tapped on. This offender could then later tap off at some other station (or reverse their tap on at a pole out of sight of the officers). Or they could just eat the default fare as it's a lot less than a fine would be. So it's a good loophole for the fare evader set to think about using, especially once it rolls out to trains and buses. TfNSW will need to respond by introducing a fine-after-the-fact system like London, and it would be interesting to see if the current Act and regulations actually support that.
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Re: Introducing OPAL Card

Postby Stu » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:22 pm

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