VIDEO: Opal Man: The wanderers discover the real flexibility of the Opal card
Monday: Tangara trains to be upgraded
Sydney Trains’ fleet of Tangaras, introduced between 1988 and 1995 and accounting for over a quarter of the Sydney Trains rolling stock, are be upgraded to add another 10 years to their working lives. The trains were originally designed for a 30 year operating life, meaning that without this upgrade the first Tangara could reach the end of its working life in 2018.
Tuesday: Privacy concerns raised over Opal cards
Concerns have been raised over government access to Opal card data, with numerous NSW and Commonwealth Government agencies able to obtain this data without a warrant. Stephen Blanks, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, argued that police would be able to collect data even on people who are not suspected of a crime and that warrants are “a reasonable price to pay to protect privacy and ensure these powers are not abused”. A spokesperson for Transport for NSW responded that “Transport for NSW may only disclose information to a law enforcement agency that is necessary for law enforcement purposes, for the investigation of an offence, for the enforcement of criminal law or to assist in locating a missing person” and that unregistered Opal cards would soon be available for those not wanting to link their card to their personal information.
Tuesday: NorthConnex EIS released
The Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthConnex freeway linking the M2 near North Rocks to the M1 near Wahroonga predicts that the current 18 minute trip along this route will blow out to 27 minutes if NorthConnex is not built. If the road tunnel is built, the increase in duration of this trip will be limited and be only 20 minutes. Motorists opting to take NorthConnex will take 5 minutes but pay $7 for the privilege.
Tuesday: Opal rolls out to one third of buses
400,000 Opal cards have been issued, with 1,700 buses set to be Opal enabled in July. There are 5,000 buses in NSW that are scheduled to be Opal enabled by the end of the year, with light rail set to be Opal ready by early 2015.
Wednesday: Existing tolls could be extended to pay for future roads
The NSW Government has confirmed that it will consider selling the right to collect tolls on roads once the existing concession expires in order to fund the construction of additional roads. Leaked reports suggest that the right to toll the M5 for 34 years, between 2026 and 2060, could raise $1.7bn for the NSW Government.
Thursday: Gladys Berejiklian outlines past wins and future vision
The Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has announced that shorter buses will soon arrive in Sydney and hinted at light rail from Parramatta to Macquarie Park. These will have the benefit of being able to easily navigate through some of Sydney’s smaller streets. She also suggested that a light rail line running from Westmead to Macquarie Park via Parramatta was her prefered route when she stated that it was important that light rail connect the health and education precincts. The NSW Government has committed $400m to light rail around Parramatta, but has not yet identified a preferred corridor.
Friday: Opal system glitch causes crash
Opal’s online system crashed, preventing users from receiving an accurate statement of their travel histories. The Opal website itself has also been inaccessible at points throughout the week. Travel transactions themselves have been logged correctly on Opal readers and cards themselves, and will be reflected correctly when the glitch has been resolved.