Transport for NSW’s Opal smartcard begins operating on the 333 bus today. While the bus trial began earlier with the 594-594H bus, this represents the first major bus route to begin operating with Opal, and one that also feeds into the Eastern Suburbs Line on which Opal also currently operates.
This rollout was previously hinted at by the inclusion of the 333 bus route in the Opal brochures (image above), and by the expansion of Opal top-up locations to places along the 333 route to Bondi Beach (image below).
This suggests that Opal top up locations are a good predictor of which routes Opal is set to be rolled out to.
Bambul Shakibaei (@bambul) November 09, 2013
Bambul Shakibaei (@bambul) November 10, 2013
Opal top ups at these locations would be consistent with the next Opal route passing through both Coogee and Randwick (such as the 373, 373, or 314). But the low number also suggests that this could be some time away.
What has been confirmed is that the next expansion of Opal on the rail network will be on the Northern and North Shore Lines, out to the Central Coast, followed by the Western Line. Both of these are scheduled to occur in the first quarter of 2014. However, based on past experience, Opal’s rollout has generally happened 1-4 months ahead of the initial timetable, so this could occur as early as December (unless Transport for NSW decides to pause the rollout during the Christmas/New Year period).
Opal was initially said to be completely rolled out “by 2015”, but more recent announcements have begun to mention “end of 2014” instead, a sign that the rollout is on or ahead of the initial schedule. Opal was rolled out to all ferries in August earlier this year, while there is still no word on when it will be rolled out to light rail, other than the “end of 2014”.