A 25km trip on the Opal card to the CBD at 6.30am in Sydney would attract the full peak fare of US$5.42, more than a dollar more than a rush hour ticket for a similar distance in Melbourne (paid on arrival charged after 7.15am) or Brisbane (where peak fares start after 6am and run until 8.30am).
While the rush-hour extension was aimed at spreading the commuter load across the services – after seeing a clear spike in people boarding trains at 9.01am – Nelson said a shorter spike could encourage more people to commute with public ones Transport to go to work and return to the office.
Matthew Hounsell, a researcher at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures who was involved in the modeling that led to the widening of rush-hour prices in Sydney, said the change made sense when trains were overcrowded, but now might be the time be to refine the policy.
“Clearly, the number one factor influencing when you commute is when and where your boss allows you to work,” Hounsell said.
In a statement, Transport for NSW said the overcrowding observed prior to 2020, which led to the extension of peak-time prices, is now “a far less regular occurrence”.
“Over time, we will have a clearer picture of the regular patterns of post-COVID travel as the new normal of hybrid work and commute takes hold,” it said.
In the UK, pandemic-related work patterns led to the introduction of a National Rail ‘Flexi Season Ticket’, covering journeys between two stations for eight days over a four-week period.
Weekly spending on an Opal card is capped at $50 per week. But with daily travel caps of $16.80 per day, a person would have to commute at least four days per week to receive that benefit.
“We can’t translate [the UK ticket] directly because we don’t have season tickets like these, but it’s the principle that’s of interest: people value flexibility,” Nelson said, adding that the changed way people work in Sydney is leading to a “broader overhaul” of public transport policy should lead.
Nicolaou and Business Sydney are pushing for a free travel zone in Sydney’s CBD, similar to Melbourne’s free tram zone, to encourage people to visit local businesses after commuting downtown. He was very critical of extended top prices.
“If the big stick approach doesn’t work to encourage people to change their times of day, we need to encourage people to come in,” he said.
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/for-sydney-commuters-it-s-nearly-impossible-to-travel-off-peak-20230309-p5cqpi.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Opal card prices, travel restrictions reform needed for Sydney’s public transport, experts say