Free Opal loophole closed

Sly method of obtaining free public transport journeys curtailed in New South Wales (NSW)

A loophole enabling New South Wales (NSW) public transport users to quickly accumulate free rides was closed with an upgrade to the Opal Card system this week.

The Opal Card system rewards public transport users with free rides for the rest of the week, once they have paid for eight trips.

The loophole involved people walking, cycling or driving between stations to tap on and off, thereby earning free travel for rest of the week after only paying about $18.

"It’s unfair that customers doing the right thing and paying to actually use transport are being cheated by people who are using their own or other people’s cards to artificially inflate their journeys," NSW minister for transport and infrastructure Andrew Constance says.

"Some are even using the practice as a business model to earn money."             

A spike in the number of short trips taken between neighbouring stations showed most people were pulling the stunt on Mondays and Tuesdays, Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) revealed.

"The system has been updated to substantially disrupt those people who are improperly earning free travel, by raising the number of transfers needed to make a journey," Constance says.

"My message is that the changes are in operation as of now.

"The system changes do not affect other customers, because they are not the ones attempting to quickly get charged for more journeys."

The loophole also entitled those who had sneakily accumulated free travel to travel on the NSW bus and ferry network.

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