Hey Sydney commuters, want to save mad coin on your public transport costs? It turns out that making a series of totally useless and unnecessary trips early in the week might be your best bet.
Over the past few years, the Opal Card has rolled out across Sydney‘s bus, rail and ferry networks, with fares structured so that they cap out at $15 a day, and free travel after the first eight trips in any week.
Sydney residents quickly cottoned on to the fact that those eight trips can be of any length, and that those with the time and energy to get creative with their journeys could potentially make big savings.
This loophole, if you want to call it that, seems like the kind of thing The Man would try and shut down, but the Sydney Morning Herald report that the NSW government is actually pretty chill about it. “I want people to beat the system,” said Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.
“I want people to find the savings because they are there to be had,” she said, presumably to a room full of blank stares. “I love hearing people tell me ‘I am catching public transport more now because it feels like I’m not paying for it.”
Now, just because it’s possible for a user to game the system doesn’t mean it’s easy or practical. According to the Herald, if Sydney commuters really, desperately want to apply themselves, one way to do it would be:
– Catch public transport to work as normal on Monday and Tuesday mornings
– Make a short trip at lunchtime on both days, then return after an hour
– Catch public transport home as normal on Monday and Tuesday evening
With the $15 daily cap in mind, packing eight trips into two days means that, for someone living in the suburbs, a week’s worth of public transport could cost as little as $30, with free travel from Wednesday on. The key word there, though, is could.
While the government is being very magnanimous in celebrating free public transport for all, the reality is that very few tired working schmos will actually make the effort to play the system on a weekly basis, so only insane, hyper-organised commuters will get the best deal.
For instance, in order for the Herald’s scenario to work, their hypothetical commuter would need to be taking hour-long lunch breaks on Monday and Tuesday, not counting the time it took them to get to and from lunch. Poor saps eating leftovers at their desks need not apply.
City workers who don’t have the luxury of hour-long lunches could instead take the train or bus one unnecessary stop during their lunch breaks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with free travel from Thursday on.
Keep in mind, though, that this method requires you to waste a portion of your precious lunch break with your head potentially wedged into some weird dude’s armpit on the bus instead of, you know, actually having a lunch break. Once again, not an ideal scenario.
It seems the moral here is that the Opal card can make Sydney public transport way more affordable – if you’re willing to go to insane lengths and waste a lot of your time to take full advantage. Carry on feeling ripped-off, Sydney commuters.