NSW pensioners could be hit with full fares or fines of up to $550 if they fail to show their Gold Opal card when travelling from next month.
The state’s Opposition Transport spokesperson Jodie McKay said a leaked document shows it will take pensioners five to 10 days to get their Gold Opal.
Today is the last day that pensioners and seniors can apply for an Opal card and get it back in the post in time for August 1 when the automated card system replaces paper tickets.
In the leaked memo, staff members are allegedly asked to show some ‘empathy’ to infrequent travellers and pensioners if they don’t have an Opal card and need to travel.
The memo is also reported to have said there will be ‘no grace period for this change, so if customers are stopped Transport Officers may issue a fine from 1 August’.
“There will be plenty of pensioners out there who won’t have got the message that today is the last day they have to apply for an Opal card,” McKay said.
“The Government is removing choice and forcing pensioners to go online to top up their card when for many older people they like the convenience of going to a booth to pay cash.
“(Premier) Mike Baird needs to show some compassion and flexibility and put in place a period of grace to ensure pensioners aren’t slapped with the full fare or a fine.”