NSW Ticket Gates Are Being Left Open Until September, But Can You Get Fined For Not Tapping On?

To tap, or not to tap?

Opal NSW

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Opal card reader gates will be left open for nearly a month in NSW as part of ongoing industrial action by the Rail, Tram, and Bus Union (RTBU).

Commuters won’t be chastised by station staff who are union members for not tapping their Opal card until Saturday, September 6 — a move that will leave an estimated $10 million dent in lost revenue for Transport NSW, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Perhaps it’s a good time to go travelling this weekend,” the state branch of the RTBU wrote the first day of action last Saturday. “Station staff are taking action by leaving all gates open at all times.”

It coincided with the first City2Surf charity marathon on Sunday, where 70,000 participants were encouraged to catch public transport to avoid major road closures between Sydney CBD and Bondi Beach. 

While this appears to be a win for anyone hopping on a train over the next three weeks, it has been warned that transport officers who are not RTBU members are still on the prowl through the carriages. However, due to the RTBU having a very high union density, the vast majority of rail workers are in the union.

An RTBU NSW spokesperson emphasised to Junkee that it is not a fare-free action, so at this stage, there’s a chance that police will fine people for evading fares, as well as those transit officers who aren’t a part of the union, or who don’t have the latest info.

“We’re not saying that people won’t get fined — that is a risk,” they said. “We’re just leaving the Opal gates open.”

Chief Executive of Sydney Trains Matt Longland said that tapping on and off with Opal cards affects fare prices, but also lets commuters access Opal benefits — including the weekly travel reward of half price fares after paying for eight journeys in one week. Wow, that’s almost as good as paying no fares at all!

However, being caught not paying Opal fares on public transport can incur a caution or $200 fine, with a maximum $550 penalty notice.

The hypothetical, temporarily permitted fare evasion is made possible as part on an ongoing feud between rail workers and the Perrottet Government since December, and follows a series of negotiation breakdowns over safety concerns with new fleets, and pay talks.

An additional strike is taking place on Wednesday, August 17, affecting the T8 Airport and South, as well as the T3 Bankstown and Southern Highlands rail lines.