NSW to finally get a smart travel card

Sydney's Opal card
Will be useful in 2015

Originally scheduled to be available for travellers during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, NSW's smart travel card has finally been given a launch date.

The Opal card is Sydney's answer to the Oyster Card in London or Hong Kong's Octopus card, allowing users to simply tap and go on public transport, without having to spend 15 minutes in a queue on Monday morning.

After 12 years, the card is finally getting a limited trial next month, with adults on the Neutral Bay ferry loop able to use the card.

Individual tickets will be capped at $15 a trip from Monday to Saturday and $2.50 on Sundays, with users able to travel for free after paying for eight journeys in a single week.

The card will work like an e-tag, allowing you to add funds automatically or manually. You will be required to tap the card at the start and end of every trip, which allows you to only be charged for the distance you travel.

Slow and steady?

The limited Neutral Bay ferry trial will expand to the Sydney train network mid to late next year, as well as the rest of the ferry network.

Buses won't offer Opal support until 2014, while the Sydney light rail service will come online in 2015. And that's provided that the card suffers no more delays.

At this stage, there's also no word about whether the service will integrate with smartphones as well as the smartcards. But given the long lead time, our fingers are well and truly crossed.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.