Transport for NSW loves to make a big song and dance about how not tapping on is stealing. If you’re an Opal card veteran like myself, then you know what I’m talking about. When you’re walking through a train station, it’s not surprising to go past a poster that equates fare evasion with the act of stealing a baguette from an impoverished baker.
Moreover, these folks aren’t kidding around. If you’re caught without a valid ticket, then you might have to fork over anywhere between $200 and $550.
Now, this is a totally understandable position. As Transport for NSW has stated on their website, “While most people pay the correct fare, fare evasion still happens across the network and means there is less money to spend on extra services and new infrastructure.” For the most part, I froth over public transport. Any service that makes me less like Elon Musk is worth its weight in gold.
However, this messaging would be much easier to swallow if Transport for NSW just stopped stealing my money. What do I mean by that? Whelp, let me explain:
Injustice Goes Brrr: The Bus Won’t Let Me Tap Off
For the most part, I’m a model citizen. When I catch the bus in the morning, I’ll groggily tap on without question. Nevertheless, there have been multiple times this year when I’ve gone to tap off and the machine has glitched the heck out. This means that I leave the bus in a foul mood.
But what’s so bad about not being able to tap off? Basically, it means that I’m getting charged for a longer trip than I took. “If you tap on at the beginning and then forget to tap off at the end of your trip, you will be charged the default fare for an incomplete trip,” asserted Transport for NSW. This organisation additionally wrote, “If you tap on at the beginning and then forget to tap off at the end of your trip, you will be charged the default fare for an incomplete trip.”
Therefore, if I’m able to tap on and not able to tap off, that’s stealing. Transport for NSW, this is a two-way street, you have to work with me here. If you steal my cash then I have less money to spend on extra services, like breakfast, and new infrastructure projects, like an IKEA chair to eat my breakfast on.
I’m Not The Only Person That’s Getting Hurt
Now, if I was the only person to whom this happened to, I could at least assume I was being targeted. But that just isn’t the case. Many people are getting impacted by this phenomenon. “I live in Newtown and work in the CBD, so while my ride home is short, the actual bus goes all the way to Dulwich Hill. This makes the moment when I realise I am not going to be able to tap off incredibly frustrating,” explained a fellow proletariat named Ruby. “It triples the cost of the ride, and I feel sort of punished for tapping on in the first place.”
“If this happened occasionally, it would be filed under ‘whatever,’ but with returning to the office, I’m noticing it more and more,” Ruby also noted. “It can add $30.00, really not ideal given the skyrocketing cost of living!”
Coda: Some Points Worth Mentioning About Transport for NSW
If you find this act of thievery as frustrating as I do, please don’t harass any Transport for NSW staff. Sometimes they are not at fault for this situation taking place. The last time that I wasn’t able to tap off, my bus driver was incredibly apologetic. He even mentioned that he wished that Transport for NSW used a better system than the Opal one.
You can also apply for a Transport for NSW refund. All you have to do is battle a bureaucratic online system every single time that they steal your money. However, the fact you have to fill out a form instead of tapping a couple of buttons isn’t great. Moreover, if Transport for NSW isn’t using the Opal card system correctly, then I should be able to fine them somewhere between $200 and $550 myself.