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Dollars and Sense

How to get (almost) free travel on your Opal card.

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Last year our beloved minister for transport issued a challenge to each person in the state. Gladys said that when it comes to Opal, “I want people to beat the system”. Hold tight baby, because with concession Opal cards available it’s time to meet that challenge. But before we can, we need to know how Opal works.

Firstly, you’ll never pay more than $7.50 a day for public transport or $30 per week.

Secondly, once you’ve made eight “journeys” the rest of your travel is free for the week.  (What is a journey? For our purposes, a journey is completed after you tap on and off at two non-CBD rail stations on different lines.)

So, how do you get eight journeys (and free travel) as cheaply and quickly as possible?

Importantly, they stop counting journeys after you hit your daily limit ($7.50). With concession tickets at $1.05 (bus) and $1.69 (train fare) for a 1-zone ride, that means you can’t reach 8 journeys in a single day (anything over $7.50 won’t be counted). You’ll need two days to beat Gladys’ baby.

Cheapest: Reach eight journeys by catching a bus less than 3km and waiting an hour. Do it before a lecture. If you’re heading out for lunch get the bus there and have a drink on Gladys.

Quickest: The quickest method involves tapping on at Macdonaldtown station but don’t get on the train, it is faster to walk to Erskineville station (450m away, and on a different line), and tap off there. Repeat in reverse. You’ve clocked in a fraction of the time it’d take you on the train. Cost: $9.50 if it’s all done off peak and $13.60 if done during peak.

Obviously this doesn’t save you much if you live in the city, but if you’re travelling from far away this could save you around $17 a week. Then head over to the Forest Lodge hotel, show them this story, and spend the savings on a couple of their finest student jugs (you’ll actually be a dollar short, but hey, who’s counting?)