This week in transport (23 November 2014)

Posted: November 25, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , ,

NOTE: Apologies for the lateness of this week’s post. It was written up, but then not posted immediately.

Thursday: Opal card fare hack discovered

Opal users can reach their weekly travel reward for $13.86 in under 30 minutes on Tuesdays if they have made 2 journeys on the previous Monday. The “hack”, as it has been dubbed by the Opal Card App developers who discovered it, comes less than 3 months after the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian encouraged the public to seek ways of cutting their fare costs using their Opal card.

VIDEO: Opal Card Hack

The method requires customers to have already made 2 journeys on a previous day, due to the $15 daily cap. Customers must also travel during off-peak (outside of (7:00AM-9:00AM and 4:00PM-6:30PM) in order to receive the off-peak discount. It also makes use of the fact that Macdonaldtown Station and Erskineville Stations, the two stations that are the closest on the network, are only 350m apart.

An adult Opal card. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

An adult Opal card. Click to enlarge.
(Source: Transport for NSW)

By tapping on at one and tapping off at the other, customers simulate catching a train and making 1 trip. By returning to the original station and tapping on again, a new trip is initiated. However, these 2 trips do not appear to be linked, thus making them independent journeys for the purpose of reaching the weekly travel reward. Normally customers must wait 60 minutes between tapping off and tapping back on in order for trips not to be linked and thus count as 2 separate journeys.

The 2 stations must also be ungated, ruling out any CBD stations as well as major suburban stations.

Thursday: Pedestrian countdown timer trial

The NSW Government is set to trial pedestrian countdown timers at six intersections in Sydney to determine if the timers help improve safety for pedestrians. A yellow countdown timer, displaying the number of seconds left for pedestrians to cross the road, will replace the red flashing “don’t walk” signal.

VIDEO: Putting pedestrian countdown timers to the test

Friday: Real time data comes for ferries and trams

Real time locations for ferries and light rail is being introduced to transport apps, in addition to the existing real time vehicle information previously available for buses and trains. Real time data will be available on six transport apps: NextThere, TripView, TransitTimes+, TripGo, Triptastic, and Arrivo Sydney.

Saturday: Second Harbour road crossing planned

The NSW Government is planning a second Harbour road crossing, linking the Balmain peninsula to the M2 at Lane Cove. The plans, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and yet to be officially announced, are reportedly contingent on the 99 year lease of the NSW electricity distribution network. It will link up to the Northern extension of WestConnex, which will link up WestConnex to the Anzac Bridge.

Commentary: Why a 2nd Harbour road tunnel is a good thing

WestConnex and its new North-South extension to the Anzac Bridge and Sutherland. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rebuilding NSW Fact Sheet 4, p. 1.)

A new Harbour crossing would begin at the current end of the proposed Northern extension to WestConnex and end at the M2 in Lane Cove. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rebuilding NSW Fact Sheet 4, p. 1.)

Sunday: 60,000 apartments for Parramatta Road

Plans for 60,000 new apartments to be built along the Parramatta Road corridor are set to be released by the NSW Government. One quarter of the new homes would be built in Granville, while a third would be built in Homebush. The plan includes improved bus connections between Burwood and the city, set to coincide with the completion of the M4 East portion of WestConnex parallel to Parramatta Road. Though the existing M4 is set to be widened between Parramatta and Concord, no details have been announced about any public transport improvements in this part of Parramatta Road. Over two thirds of the 60,000 apartments are to be built in this Western portion of Parramatta Road.

This follows a push by the opposition for these plans to be made public immediately, rather than in 2015.

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Comments
  1. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    I can see a new service being offered by an enterprising person with a bicycle. The “OPAL hack video” approach improved has been officially sanctioned by the Transport Minister.

    Budding entrepreneur on bicycle would collect OPAL cards from interested parties (after having arranged a deal with a local cafe) so his/her clients sit having a coffee etc while he/she cycles between two stations with 5 or 10 or more OPAL cards. Swiping them one after the other at each end of the targeted stations. Maybe they’re 350m apart maybe 640m apart for example. Charging a modest $4 or $5 dollars a head – not a bad little earner for 30 minutes or less effort and the OPAL card owners save 2 or 3 or more times that amount.

    As GB would say “There are winners and losers.”

    # 60,000 new units in tower blocks – where are the new schools, parks, hospital, police, ambulance, fire stations, medical clinics, increased storm water, increased sewerage, increased water mains & storage to provide water pressure to go up the 20 to 40 storey heights?

    As usual ‘integrated’ planning = right thing by developers and wrong way for community. Why do pollies of all colours forget that developers take months but infrastructure takes decades?

    Why is it that building underground road tunnels is “brilliant” and “far-sighted” and “a boon to the community” yet underground heavy rail that can take thousands of cars off the roads at far lower ongoing cost is “too expensive.”

    The article on the “Elizabeth” TBM showed the all up cost for the rail tunnel boring, lining the walls and civil works for the 5 underground stations was less than $40m per km.

    When will the “Congestion” Premier or his advisors actually do their homework?

    Bambul do you send your weekly updates to the ‘Congestion Premier’ or GB? If not please do!

  2. @Andrew –

    Rest assured, the readership of this blog extends to the Transport Minister’s office.

  3. Simon says:

    Such enterprises did not lead to a change in the fare structure in Brisbane. They probably won’t here either.

  4. MrV says:

    The obvious problem is someone is going to notice a person fraudulently tagging on dozens of opal cards.
    Would also be computationally simple for Opal to run an algo over the data to pick up multiple trips within the 30mins and group them as a single journey.
    Also these ‘hacks’ are only ‘hacks’ if you value your time at $0/hr.

  5. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    @ MRV – The transport Minister has publicly stated her support for people to rort the system. So there is no problem doing this if the Minister responsible says there is not. Equally given the ‘morale’ of STA staff – enforcement even if it had not been officially condoned would be interesting.

    I agree in theory it should be simple to program but that assumes the existing programming has been produced on a ‘structured basis’. Unfortunately my experience of looking at code for major systems (such as a bank mainframe) is that for nearly thirty years (and more in some cases) the programming is more like a thought process than planned/optimised code.

    MS Windows is an excellent example of how far this ‘bloated’ programming approach has gone. Going back to when Lotus 123 and Lotus Symphony were leading Excel the executable file sizes for the same if not more features (Symphony had word processor, database and spreadsheet all-in-one) fitted on a single 5.25″ disk. Excel as just a spreadsheet with no extra functionality required 3.

    I still use Symphony, it loads before my finger has retreated from the ‘enter’ key and can edit/run any Excel file converted to Excel 2003.

    Long winded way to say given the extreme length of time it has taken for OPAL (direct plaigarised version of Oyster, I believe, however with some functionality of Oyster disabled!) to be launched does not provide a reason to believe changing anything within it is going to be cheap or easy. I look forward to being wrong on this!

  6. Simon says:

    MrV, I’m not aware of any way such moves could be called fraud.

    And as AR points out the minister has supported exploiting the loopholes in the Opal system.

  7. JC says:

    Fraud is telling lies to gain an advantage – tapping an opal card and not travelling is telling a lie – so it is fraud. But if the victim (the farebox represented by GB) desn’t care – then as AR says, there is no problem. I expect there are putting it down to beta stress testing to identifiy potential loopholes for v2.0.

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