Frequently Asked Questions
Your questions answered about Sydney’s new electronic ticketing system for public transport.
- Can two people travel together using the same Opal card?
No, each customer travelling must have a separate, valid Opal card to travel.
- How do I use my Opal card when there is trackwork or bad weather and buses are replacing trains or ferries?
Customers travelling on a replacement bus service must tap on and tap off where available. Otherwise present your Opal card to the bus driver when boarding.
- Does value on an Opal card expire?
Yes, it can expire if you don’t use your Opal card for nine years. However, if you receive a new Opal card that is registered and you have arranged to put value on it, you will need to present it to a card reader within 60 days. Otherwise the balance will simply be reversed and credited back to your nominated credit or debit card account.
- What if my Opal card isn’t working, is damaged, lost or stolen?
If your card is registered and it's lost or stolen you report it by calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL) – your existing balance will be protected and we will transfer it onto a new Opal card and send it to you.
- Is there a fee to top up?
There are no fees for topping up online, by phone or at Opal card retailers using cash. However, if you use a credit or debit card to top up at an Opal card retailer, they may charge a service fee.
- How will my personal information be managed?
- Will revenue protection officers or police be able to check my Opal card?
Yes, revenue protection officers and NSW Police officers can check your journey information at any time using a portable Opal card reader.
- My auto top up was activated even though my balance was above $10?
A major benefit from using an Opal card is the ease and convenience of selecting auto top up – it means no more queues or worrying about how to top up the value on your card.
For customers who have selected auto top up for their card, the Opal system aims at all times to ensure the card has enough value to enable the customer to travel.
With auto top up when your card balance falls below $10 it will top up automatically.
There are times when auto top up will activate after a customer taps on, even though the Opal card balance was above $10 at the tap on.
Why this happens can be summarised as follows: After tapping on, and during the journey, the system holds an amount equivalent to a default fare. If this results in the Opal card balance moving below $10.00, auto top up will be activated.
This movement on the Opal card balance will take place even if the customer taps off correctly at the end of their journey.
This process ensures that the Opal card customer always has enough balance to travel and that a fare is deducted when a customer travels on public transport, even if they forget to tap off.
- Does Transport for NSW have any Opal mobile apps?
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) provides links to useful real time apps for mobile devices for customers to plan their trips and receive information about public transport updates such as traffic incidents, service cancellations or delays.
Transport for NSW has developed two apps to allow customers to get an estimation of their Opal fare before they travel.
Customers can enter a starting location and destination, specify travel times and dates and search results will display trip options as well as the estimated Opal fare.
You can build your Opal journey and get an Opal fare estimate before you travel when you already know which train, bus, ferry or light rail service to catch. The apps are for iOS and Android and can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. You can also find them at transportnsw.info
TfNSW is not responsible for any loss suffered as a result of you disclosing any information contained in your Customer Profile to another person, application (including mobile application) or system. Customers who download any Mobile Apps developed by 3rd parties do so at their own risk.
If you believe your Opal account has been compromised please contact 13 67 25 (13 OPAL) to have your existing Opal card blocked and a replacement card issued.
- How are Opal fares calculated for customers?
Opal fares are based on the distance travelled by the customer, from where they tap on to where they tap off.
Paper based tickets for train and ferry (MyTrain and MyFerry) use fare bands that are based on the distance between stations or wharves. Bus paper tickets (MyBus) are based on “sections” travelled to determine a fare band, but the distance of a ‘section’ can vary.
Opal uses similar fare bands to the present paper ticket system to make it easier for customers to compare and decide when to start using an Opal card.
Opal has five train fare bands, two ferry fare bands, three bus fare bands and two light rail fare bands.
The fare deducted from an Opal card is determined by how far the customer has travelled, which is then matched to a fare band. For trains, the Opal fare matches the distance of track travelled between two Opal activated stations. For ferries and buses it is the straight line distance between the tap on and tap off.
For the first time, Sydney’s buses will be using automatic vehicle location technology to calculate the straight line distance travelled by an Opal activated bus. This means that for the first time bus fares can be accurately calculated based on the straight line distance travelled.
For some bus trips a customer’s fare may move into a different fare band under Opal when compared to the “sections” based paper ticket.
Please also take the time to read about the Opal Weekly Travel Reward and the definitions of trips, journey and transfer
- When does the Opal week and day start and end?
For the purposes of fare calculation, the Opal day commences at 4.00am and ends at 3.59am the following day. The Opal week commences on Monday.
- Trip, journey and transfer explained
- A trip is travel on one route, one mode (e.g. a single bus trip). When you transfer to another route or service, you are commencing a new trip
- A journey consists of one or more trips on eligible services where transfers between services occur within 60 minutes*
- A transfer occurs at the end of a single trip. It is a change of transport mode or route, to another service or route, to continue a journey. Transfers made within a standard transfer time of 60 minutes* combine trips into a single journey
*60 minutes applies to all services except the Sydney Ferries Manly service where the standard transfer time is extended 130 minutes from tap on.
- How will I know how much value is left on my Opal card?
Whenever you tap off* at an Opal card reader, the display will show you the balance remaining on your Opal card. You can also check your balance at any time:
- By calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL) and speak to a customer care representative
- By visiting an Opal card retailer and ask to check your balance
* Or when you tap on when using the Sydney Ferries Manly service as it only travels on one route and automatically calculates a set fare.
- How do I check my transaction history?
You can check your transactions via your Opal Activity statement which is processed within 48 hours and is available on the website or by calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL) and speaking to a Customer Care representative.
- I’ve seen Opal cards advertised through online retailers like Gumtree, MintyShop and eBay – is it safe to buy Opal cards in this way?
Transport for NSW cannot guarantee that a card you obtain through an online purchase like eBay, MintyShop or Gumtree will work or be legitimate. Individual sellers of Opal cards on eBay, MintyShop and Gumtree are not official Opal retailers and are not authorised to issue or top up cards. There are now more than 1,800 Opal retailers who are authorised to issue Adult and Child/Youth Opal cards and provide top ups. You can also order an Opal card online or 13 67 25 (13 OPAL).
- I’ve seen online retailers offering discounts on Opal top ups – is it safe to top up my Opal card in this way?
The only online location where you can top up your Opal card is opal.com.au If you see any online offers regarding discounted Opal top ups be aware that they are not authorised and therefore the card may not work and the top up may not be legitimate. You can report such activity to us online or by calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL).
- What is the policy as an Opal card user for travelling with a bike?
Passengers travelling with a bicycle on trains and ferries only need a valid Opal card for themselves.
Please note that bicycles cannot be taken on buses.
- What about travelling to Sydney Airport (Domestic or International Airport) train stations?
When tapping on or off at Domestic or International Airport stations, a station access fee of $13.00 for Adults and $11.60 for Gold Senior/Pensioners and Child/Youth is deducted from your Opal card balance, in addition to the relevant Opal train fare. This is the same fee that currently applies to paper tickets for travel to these privately owned stations.
However, if you’re travelling to the airport more than once a week you can save money with the Opal card, as the Sydney Airport Station Access Fee is capped at $23 per week for Adults and $20.50 for Gold Senior/Pensioners and Child/Youth.
The Opal 60 minute transfer doesn't apply at Sydney Airport Stations. If you tap off at the airport and tap on again within one hour, you'll be charged for two journeys, including two Station Access Fees. This gives you two paid journeys towards your Weekly Travel Reward
The Sydney Airport Station Access Fee does not count towards your Daily Travel Cap.
The deduction of the station access fee may mean that your Opal card balance goes negative. If this happens you will need to top up your card to travel again.
- Can I use an Opal card on Manly Fast Ferry or Sydney Fast Ferry services?
Sydney Ferries’ services are the only ferry services included in the Opal card ticketing system. The Opal card is not available for use on the privately owned Manly Fast Ferry or Sydney Fast Ferries.
- What happens if I forget to tap on or tap off?
If you forget to tap on or tap off, a default fare is charged, which is the maximum applicable fare for your trip. Default fares do not contribute to the Weekly Travel Reward.
Also, if you haven't tapped on with your Opal card, you're not travelling with a valid ticket and can be fined.
- Can I still buy a paper ticket from the bus driver?
You can now use Opal to travel on all bus services in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, the Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Currently you can also buy a paper ticket on all bus services, except on PrePay Only services.
Pensioners can still buy Pensioner Excursion Tickets before boarding a bus, from more than 1,600 ticket sellers across Sydney, including many newsagencies, 7-Eleven stores, Australia Post and Woolworths supermarkets.
- On buses, how does the system know where I’ve travelled and how is my bus fare calculated?
Buses that are activated for Opal use GPS (satellite) tracking that tells the system exactly where the bus is at any given time. The system recognises the location of the bus stops where you tap on and tap off, and calculates your bus fare according to the straight-line distance between those stops.
- If I exit the bus using the front door, can I tap off at the front Opal card reader?
Yes, you can tap off at the front or rear doors of the bus.
- Can I enter the bus via the rear doors to tap on?
No, you must enter the bus via the front door only to tap on.
- What happens if my bus breaks down and I have to transfer to a replacement bus?
Tap off the first bus as you leave and, once you're on the replacement bus tap on and tap off as normal. Your fare will be unaffected as long as the time between tapping off the first bus and tapping onto the second bus is no longer than 60 minutes.
- Can I use my Opal card on NightRide buses?
Yes, you can travel on all NightRide bus services using Opal. Just remember, on Friday and Saturday nights Route N100 is free for customers travelling between Kings Cross and the city. So you don't need to tap on and tap off if you're this is your trip. Customers travelling from any other stop on the N100 route (Bondi Junction to Central) must tap on and tap off as normal.
- Can the bus driver top up my Opal card?
No, you need to top up your card before you travel either at an Opal retailer, online or by calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL).
A top up online or phone may take up to 60 minutes to take effect.
- If the station or wharf gates are open, do I still need to tap on and tap off?
Yes. To get the correct fare for your journey you always need to tap on and tap off, even if the gates are open. The only exception is when travelling on the F1 Manly Ferry service, where there's no need to tap off as there's only one possible stop.
- Do I still need to tap on and tap off if I've reached my Daily Travel Cap or Weekly Travel Reward?
Yes, even if you have reached your Daily Travel Cap or Weekly Travel Reward, you need to tap on and tap off for each journey, so that you have a valid ticket for travel.
- If I’m changing ferries, trains or buses do I still need to tap off?
If you leave the train station, you do need tap off. However, if you’re changing trains in the same station, you don’t need to tap off to catch the next train. Just tap off at the end of your train journey and your Opal fare will be correctly calculated and deducted from the value on your Opal card.
If you're changing ferries at the same wharf, there is no need to tap off, exit and re-enter the wharf. If you do, you will be charged a new fare.
Circular Quay is an exception, as you may have to change wharves to catch the next ferry. You can tap off and back on again within 60 minutes.
If you change from one bus to another, you must tap on and tap off on both (or all) buses. If your connecting bus trips are made within 60 minutes of each other, your fare will be calculated for the total bus journey.
- Can I tap off with an insufficient balance?
As long as you have the minimum value on your card at the time you tap on, you will be able to tap off and the Opal card will go into a negative balance. You will have to add value to your Opal card in order to tap on again.
The minimum value to tap on depends on the time of tap on and the mode of transport.
- If I tap on and my ferry or train is cancelled, can I cancel my tap on?
Yes – by reversing your tap on. To do this, just present your card a second time to the Opal card reader at your departure station gate or wharf within 30 minutes of the original tap on.
- What is the process if I’m unable to tap on or off because the card reader isn’t working or because the gates are unavailable during major special events?
Call 13 67 25 (13 OPAL) or visit the website to request a fare adjustment and report the reader that is not working. Otherwise you’ll incur a default fare, that could be higher than the normal fare you’d pay for your trip.