Sydney is introducing a smart card for public transport use, like Myki in Melbourne, go card in Brisbane, Octopus card in Hong Kong and the Oyster card in London (among many others). While this is supposed to make it easier for travellers because they can top up the cards at their convenience there are a few little stings in the tail.
The SMH says that thousands will pay more because they will lose the discount associated with buying weekly, monthly, or quarterly tickets. The NSW Government says that this is balanced by every 8th journey being free. However, all the journeys made in one trip whether one bus to work or a bus, train and ferry to work will count as one journey and so as 1/8th of a free journey. So people using only one mode of transport will benefit, those that aren’t as well serviced by public transport will miss out.
Women are also more likely to be impacted by this change as studies conducted into public transport use have found that women use public transport more than men. There are a variety of reasons behind this, but mostly because women still bear the brunt of care and housework which necessitates multiple trips to collect and drop off children, shop and undertake household tasks. This won’t hold true for all households of course, but is true of many. The study linked above also controlled for race/ethnicity and still found that women made more public transport trips than men.
There was a very good article floating around recently (which I can’t find) about how cities were set up for people who make a single trip to work and then go home again, mostly men; while women were more likely to move around again collecting or dropping off kids, shopping and other tasks that seem to fall predominantly to women.
So what this means with the Opal card is that in general women are likely to pay more because of the discounts disappearing. In real terms it seems that the convenience of the Opal card is meant to gloss over the fare increases behind it. This will impact more upon single mother homes.
Labor’s transport spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said: “Commuters will feel ripped off when they are charged for two trips if they catch a bus and then a train, yet these trips will only count as one for the eight-trip discount.”
“Behind all the spin there will be significant fare rises for many commuters,” Ms Sharpe said.
Structural inequality, we haz it.