Opal card worries pensioners

Inconvenient: Neville and Susanne Johnson are upset about plans to bring in a new bus ticket system which will mean they will no longer be able to buy bus tickets on the bus. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Inconvenient: Neville and Susanne Johnson are upset about plans to bring in a new bus ticket system which will mean they will no longer be able to buy bus tickets on the bus. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

NEVILLE Johnson says a new ticketing system which is being rolled out on buses around the state will mean he has to walk a kilometre to buy his fare before he can get on a bus.

The Sadleir resident said he travels into Liverpool at least twice a week to see doctors and do his shopping. He and his wife Susanne also catch public transport to go into Sydney city once a week for a day out.

"Our nearest shop is Miller and a kilometre away; what's the use of having a bus stop near your house if you have to walk somewhere else to buy a ticket?" Mr Johnson said.

He is concerned about upcoming changes which will mean pensioners will no longer be able to buy pensioner excursion tickets (PET) on the bus.

The state government announced this week that the Opal system will be switched on for Liverpool buses from next Monday, July 14.

Opal cards will require customers to deposit money onto an account which then pays for their travel, making public transport effectively cash-less.

Mr Johnson said there had already been a lot of opposition to the measures from local passengers and bus drivers.

"Why would they make things so much more difficult for pensioners?

"The buses don't run that well here anyway and now we can't even buy a ticket on board."

A Transport NSW spokesman said that changes to the way PET tickets were sold will only affect commuters catching State Transit buses in the centre of Sydney.

"Customers catching buses in Liverpool can continue to buy their PET on board the bus," he said.

"The buses in Liverpool are operated by private bus companies so these changes have not been implemented there."

He said when the Opal system is rolled out to all buses by the end of 2014 pensioners in Liverpool will still be able to pay cash to buy tickets on their buses, but will also be able to use the Opal cards.

"A new Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card will be released by the end of the year and fares will be capped at $2.50 a day - the same as the current Pensioner Excursion Ticket.

"Opal cards are easy to use, you simply load money onto your card and never have to queue for a ticket again.

"For State Transit buses across Sydney to be ready for Opal, a change in technology means the Pensioner Excursion Tickets can no longer be sold on board State Transit buses.

"Customers who use other buses such as the T-80 operated by Transit Systems [in Liverpool] are not affected."

Liverpool MP Paul Lynch said the changes to the ticketing system disadvantaged local pensioners, particularly in the Cartwright and Sadleir areas.

"There's absolutely nowhere close to them to purchase tickets. This will strand pensioners and prevent them using public transport."

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