NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has assured Liverpool pensioners they will be able to continue to buy their tickets in cash on local buses, despite the introduction of the new ticketing system.
Ms Berejiklian answered questions from the Champion following concerns by local pensioners — including Neville Johnson, of Sadleir, who was quoted in the paper last week — that they would no longer be able to pay cash to buy their tickets on local buses.
"Pensioners and seniors in the Liverpool area can continue to buy a pensioner excursion ticket on board their bus," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said pensioners will still have the choice to buy their paper tickets with cash even when the new Opal card system is completed operational.
"Later this year the new Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card will be released.
"Opal offers customers a range of benefits, including never having to buy a ticket again to travel on any mode of public transport."
Ms Berejiklian said the price of fares would also not be affected by the change in the system.
"Opal fares will be capped at $2.50 a day for seniors and pensioners."
She said the fares were calculated on distance and some pensioners and seniors may even pay less.
Mr Johnson said he and other pensioners were concerned that NSW was moving towards cashless public transport but Ms Berejiklian said that was a long way off.
"Like many countries around the world, I imagine a day when everyone in NSW is using electronic ticketing
"But we have always said this is a gradual rollout and seniors and pensioners do not need to worry about this - for now they can keep buying their paper PET tickets."
She said on-board PET sales had to be phased out on State Transit buses because "they use a different technology which is not compatible with Opal".
"Private buses like those in Liverpool do not have this issue.
"I'd like to assure pensioners and seniors they won't need a credit card to use Opal - they will be able to get an unregistered card and use cash to top it up at a retailer.
"At the moment customers can order an Opal card online or over the phone and link it to a credit card or bank account."